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Title: Lectures on Language - As Particularly Connected with English Grammar.
Author: Balch, William Stevens, 1806-1887
Language: English
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Silence is better than unmeaning words.--_Pythagoras._


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Rhode-Island.

                                        PROVIDENCE, Feb. 24, 1838.


SIR--The undersigned, in behalf of the Young People's Institute, hasten
to present to you the following _Resolutions_, together with their
personal thanks, for the Lectures you have delivered before them, on the
Philosophy of Language. The uncommon degree of interest, pleasure and
profit, with which you have been listened to, is conclusive evidence,
that whoever possesses taste and talents to comprehend and appreciate
the philosophy of language, which you have so successfully cultivated,
cannot fail to attain a powerful influence over the minds of his
audience. The Committee respectfully request you to favor them with a
copy of your Lectures for the Press.

                    Very respectfully,
                        Your most obedient servants,
                                            C. T. JAMES,
                                            E. F. MILLER,
                                            H. L. WEBSTER.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Resolved_, That we have been highly entertained and greatly instructed
by the Lectures of our President, on the subject of Language; that we
consider the principles he has advocated, immutably true, exceedingly
important, and capable of an easy adoption in the study of that
important branch of human knowledge.

_Resolved_, That we have long regretted the want of a system to explain
the grammar of our vernacular tongue, on plain, rational, and consistent
principles, in accordance with philosophy and truth, and in a way to be
understood and practised by children and adults.

_Resolved_, That in our opinion, the manifold attempts which have been
made, though doubtless undertaken with the purest intentions, to
simplify and make easy existing systems, have failed entirely of their
object, and tended only to perplex, rather than enlighten learners.

_Resolved_, That in our belief, the publication of these Lectures would
meet the wants of the community, and throw a flood of light upon this
hitherto dark, and intricate, and yet exceedingly interesting department
of a common education, and thus prove of immense service to the present
and future generations.

_Resolved_, That Messrs. Charles T. James, Edward F. Miller, and Henry
L. Webster, be a Committee to wait on Rev. William S. Balch, and request
the publication of his very interesting Course of Lectures before this

       *       *       *       *       *

                                        PROVIDENCE, Feb. 25, 1838.


GENTLEMEN--Your letter, together with the Resolutions accompanying it,
was duly and gratefully received. It gives me no ordinary degree of
pleasure to know that so deep an interest has been, and still is, felt
by the members of our Institute, as well as the public generally, on
this important subject; for it is one which concerns the happiness and
welfare of our whole community; but especially the rising generation.

The only recommendation of these Lectures is the subject of which they
treat. They were written in the space of a few weeks, and in the midst
of an accumulation of engagements which almost forbade the attempt. But
presuming you will make all due allowances for whatever errors you may
discover in the style of composition, and regard the _matter_ more than
the _manner_, I consent to their publication, hoping they will be of
some service in the great cause of human improvement.

                    I am, gentlemen,
                        Very respectfully yours,
                                            WM. S. BALCH.


There is no subject so deeply interesting and important to rational
beings as the knowledge of language, or one which presents a more direct
and powerful claim upon all classes in the community; for there is no
other so closely interwoven with all the affairs of human life, social,
moral, political and religious. It forms a basis on which depends a vast
portion of the happiness of mankind, and deserves the first attention of
every philanthropist.

Great difficulty has been experienced in the common method of explaining
language, and grammar has long been considered a dry, uninteresting, and
tedious study, by nearly all the teachers and scholars in the land. But
it is to be presumed that the fault in this case, if there is any, is to
be sought for in the manner of teaching, rather than in the science
itself; for it would be unreasonable to suppose that a subject which
occupies the earliest attention of the parent, which is acquired at
great expense of money, time, and thought, and is employed from the
cradle to the grave, in all our waking hours, can possibly be dull or
unimportant, if rightly explained.

Children have been required to learn verbal forms and changes, to look
at the mere signs of ideas, instead of the things represented by them.
The consequence has been that the whole subject has become uninteresting
to all who do not possess a retentive verbal memory. The philosophy of
language, the sublime principles on which it depends for its existence
and use, have not been sufficiently regarded to render it delightful and

The humble attempt here made is designed to open the way for an
exposition of language on truly philosophical principles, which, when
correctly explained, are abundantly simple and extensively useful. With
what success this point has been labored the reader will determine.

The author claims not the honor of entire originality. The principles
here advanced have been advocated, believed, and successfully practised.
William S. Cardell, Esq., a bright star in the firmament of American
literature, reduced these principles to a system, which was taught with
triumphant success by Daniel H. Barnes, formerly of the New-York High
School, one of the most distinguished teachers who ever officiated in
that high and responsible capacity in our country. Both of these
gentlemen, so eminently calculated to elevate the standard of education,
were summoned from the career of the most active usefulness, from the
scenes they had labored to brighten and beautify by the aid of their
transcendant intellects, to unseen realities in the world of spirits;
where mind communes with mind, and soul mingles with soul, disenthraled
from error, and embosomed in the light and love of the Great Parent

The author does not pretend to give a system of exposition in this work
suited to the capacities of small children. It is designed for advanced
scholars, and is introductory to a system of grammar which he has in
preparation, which it is humbly hoped will be of some service in
rendering easy and correct the study of our vernacular language. But
this book, it is thought, may be successfully employed in the
instruction of the higher classes in our schools, and will be found an
efficient aid to teachers in inculcating the sublime principles of which
it treats.

These Lectures, as now presented to the public, it is believed, will be
found to contain some important information by which all may profit. The
reader will bear in mind that they were written for, and delivered
before a popular audience, and published with very little time for
modification. This will be a sufficient apology for the mistakes which
may occur, and for whatever may have the appearance of severity, irony,
or pleasantry, in the composition.

On the subject of Contractions much more might be said. But verbal
criticisms are rather uninteresting to a common audience; and hence the
consideration of that matter was made more brief than was at first
intended. It will however be resumed and carried out at length in
another work. The hints given will enable the student to form a
tolerable correct opinion of the use of most of those words and phrases,
which have long been passed over with little knowledge of their meaning
or importance.

The author is aware that the principles he has advocated are new and
opposed to established systems and the common method of inculcation. But
the difficulties acknowledged on all hands to exist, is a sufficient
justification of this humble attempt. He will not be condemned for his
good intentions. All he asks is a patient and candid examination, a
frank and honest approval of what is true, and as honest a rejection of
what is false. But he hopes the reader will avoid a rash and precipitate
conclusion, either for or against, lest he is compelled to do as the
author himself once did, approve what he had previously condemned.

With these remarks he enters the arena, and bares himself to receive the
sentence of the public voice.




Study of Language long considered difficult.--Its importance.--Errors
in teaching.--Not understood by Teachers.--Attachment to old
systems.--Improvement preferable.--The subject important.--Its
advantages.--Principles laid down.--Orthography.--Etymology.--Syntax.--



General principles of Language.--Business of Grammar.--Children are
Philosophers.--Things, ideas, and words.--Actions.--Qualities of
things.--Words without ideas.--Grammatical terms inappropriate.--
Principles of Language permanent.--Errors in mental science.--Facts
admit of no change.--Complex ideas.--Ideas of qualities.--An
example.--New ideas.--Unknown words.--Signs without things
signified.--Fixed laws regulate matter and mind.



Principles never alter.--They should be known.--Grammar a most important
branch of science.--Spoken and written Language.--Idea of a thing.--How
expressed.--An example.--Picture writing.--An anecdote.--Ideas expressed
by actions.--Principles of spoken and written Language.--Apply
universally.--Two examples.--English language.--Foreign words.--Words in
science.--New words.--How formed.



Nouns defined.--Things.--Qualities of matter.--Mind.--Spiritual
beings.--Qualities of mind.--How learned.--Imaginary things.--Negation.
--Names of actions.--Proper nouns.--Characteristic names.--Proper nouns
may become common.



Nouns in respect to persons.--Number.--Singular.--Plural.--How
formed.--Foreign plurals.--Proper names admit of plurals.--Gender.--No
neuter.--In figurative language.--Errors.--Position or case.--Agents.--
Objects.--Possessive case considered.--A definitive word.--Pronouns.--
One kind.--Originally nouns.--Specifically applied.



Definition of adjectives.--General character.--Derivation.--How
understood.--Defining and describing.--Meaning changes to suit the
noun.--Too numerous.--Derived from nouns.--Nouns and verbs made from
adjectives.--Foreign adjectives.--A general list.--Difficult to
be understood.--An example.--Often superfluous.--Derived from
verbs.--Participles.--Some prepositions.--Meaning unknown.--With.--



Adjectives.--How formed.--The syllable _ly_.--Formed from proper nouns.
--The apostrophe and letter _s_.--Derived from pronouns.--Articles.--_A_
comes from _an_.--_In_definite.--_The_.--Meaning of _a_ and _the_.--
Murray's example.--That.--What.--"Pronoun adjectives."--_Mon_,
_ma_.--Degrees of comparison.--Secondary adjectives.--Prepositions admit
of comparison.



Unpleasant to expose error.--Verbs defined.--Every thing acts.--Actor
and object.--Laws.--Man.--Animals.--Vegetables.--Minerals.--Neutrality
degrading.--Nobody can explain a neuter verb.--_One_ kind of
verbs.--_You_ must decide.--Importance of teaching children the
truth.--Active verbs.--Transitive verbs false.--Samples.--Neuter verbs
examined.--Sit.--Sleep.--Stand.--Lie.--Opinion of Mrs. W.--Anecdote.



Neuter and intransitive.--Agents.--Objects.--No actions as such can be
known distinct from the agent.--Imaginary actions.--Actions known by
their effects.--Examples.--Signs should guide to things signified.--
Principles of action.--=Power=.--Animals.--Vegetables.--Minerals.--All
things act.--Magnetic needle.--=Cause=.--Explained.--First
Cause.--=Means=.--Illustrated.--Sir I. Newton's example.--These
principles must be known.--=Relative= action.--Anecdote of Gallileo.



A philosophical axiom.--Manner of expressing action.--Things taken for
granted.--Simple facts must be known.--Must never deviate from the
truth.--Every _cause_ will have an _effect_.--An example of an
intransitive verb.--Objects expressed or implied.--All language
eliptical.--Intransitive verbs examined.--I run.--I walk.--To step.--
Birds fly.--It rains.--The fire burns.--The sun shines.--To smile.--Eat
and drink.--Miscellaneous examples.--Evils of false teaching.--A change
is demanded.--These principles apply universally.--Their importance.



The verb =to be=.--Compounded of different radical words.--=Am=.
--Defined.--The name of Deity.--_Ei_.--=Is=.--=Are=.--=Were=,
=was=.--=Be=.--A dialogue.--Examples.--Passive Verbs examined.--Cannot
be in the present tense.--The past participle is an adjective.



=Mood=.--Indicative.--Imperative.--Infinitive.--Former distinctions.--
Subjunctive mood.--=Time=.--Past.--Present.--Future.--The future
explained.--How formed.--Mr. Murray's distinction of time.--Imperfect.--
Pluperfect.--Second future.--How many tenses.--=Auxiliary Verbs=.--Will.



Person and number in the agent, not in the action.--Similarity of
agents, actions, and objects.--Verbs made from nouns.--Irregular
verbs.--Some examples.--Regular Verbs.--_Ed_.--_Ing_.--Conjugation of
verbs.--To love.--To have.--To be.--The indicative mood varied.--A whole
sentence may be agent or object.--Imperative mood.--Infinitive mood.--Is
always future.



A temporary expedient.--Words not understood.--All words must have a
meaning.--Their formation.--Changes of meaning and form.--Should be
observed.--=Adverbs=.--Ending in _ly_.--Examples.--Ago.--Astray.--Awake.
--Asleep.--Then, when.--There, where, here.--While, till.--Whether,
together.--Ever, never, whenever, etc.--Oft.--Hence.--Perhaps.--Not.
--Or.--Nor.--Than.--As.--So.--Conjunctions.--Rule 18.--If.--But.--Tho.




    Study of Language long considered difficult.--Its importance.--Errors
    in teaching.--Not understood by Teachers.--Attachment to old
    systems.--Improvement preferable.--The subject important.--Its
    advantages.--Principles laid down.--Orthography.--Etymology.--


It is proposed to commence, this evening, a course of Lectures on the
Grammar of the English Language. I am aware of the difficulties
attending this subject, occasioned not so much by any fault in itself,
as by the thousand and one methods adopted to teach it, the multiplicity
of books pretending to "simplify" it, and the vast contrariety of
opinion entertained by those who profess to be its masters. By many it
has been considered a needless affair, an unnecessary appendage to a
common education; by others, altogether beyond the reach of common
capacities; and by all, cold, lifeless, and uninteresting, full of
doubts and perplexities, where the wisest have differed, and the firmest
often changed opinions.

All this difficulty originates, I apprehend, in the wrong view that is
taken of the subject. The most beautiful landscape may appear at great
disadvantage, if viewed from an unfavorable position. I would be slow to
believe that the means on which depends the whole business of the
community, the study of the sciences, all improvement upon the past, the
history of all nations in all ages of the world, social intercourse,
oral or written, and, in a great measure, the knowledge of God, and the
hopes of immortality, can be either unworthy of study, or, if rightly
explained, uninteresting in the acquisition. In fact, on the principles
I am about to advocate, I have seen the deepest interest manifested,
from the small child to the grey-headed sire, from the mere novice to
the statesman and philosopher, and all alike seemed to be edified and
improved by the attention bestowed upon the subject.

I confess, however, that with the mention of _grammar_, an association
of ideas are called up by no means agreeable. The mind involuntarily
reverts to the days of childhood, when we were compelled, at the risk of
our bodily safety, to commit to memory a set of arbitrary rules, which
we could neither understand nor apply in the correct use of language.
Formerly it was never dreamed that grammar depended on any higher
authority than the books put into our hands. And learners were not only
dissuaded, but strictly forbidden to go beyond the limits set them in
the etymological and syntactical rules of the authors to whom they were
referred. If a query ever arose in their minds, and they modestly
proposed a plain question as to the _why_ and _wherefore_ things were
thus, instead of giving an answer according to common sense, in a way to
be understood, the authorities were pondered over, till some rule or
remark could be found which would apply, and this settled the matter
with "proof as strong as holy writ." In this way an end may be put to
the inquiry; but the thinking mind will hardly be satisfied with the
mere opinion of another, who has no evidence to afford, save the
undisputed dignity of his station, or the authority of books. This
course is easily accounted for. Rather than expose his own ignorance,
the teacher quotes the printed ignorance of others, thinking, no doubt,
that folly and nonsense will appear better second-handed, than fresh
from his own responsibility. Or else on the more common score, that
"misery loves company."

Teachers have not unfrequently found themselves placed in an unenviable
position by the honest inquiries of some thinking urchin, who has
demanded why "_one noun governs_ another in the possessive case," as
"master's slave;" why there are more tenses than _three_; what is meant
by a _neuter_ verb, which "signifies neither action nor passion;" or an
"intransitive verb," which expresses the highest possible action, but
terminates on no object; a cause without an effect; why _that_ is
sometimes a pronoun, sometimes an adjective, and not unfrequently a
conjunction, &c. &c. They may have succeeded, by dint of official
authority, in silencing such inquiries, but they have failed to give a
satisfactory answer to the questions proposed.

Long received opinions may, in some cases, become law, pleading no other
reason than antiquity. But this is an age of investigation, which
demands the most lucid and unequivocal proof of the point assumed. The
dogmatism of the schoolmen will no longer satisfy. The dark ages of
mental servility are passing away. The day light of science has long
since dawned upon the world, and the noon day of truth, reason, and
virtue, will ere long be established on a firm and immutable basis. The
human mind, left free to investigate, will gradually advance onward in
the course of knowledge and goodness marked out by the Creator, till it
attains to that perfection which shall constitute its highest glory, its
truest bliss.

You will perceive, at once, that our inquiries thro out these lectures
will not be bounded by what has been said or written on the subject. We
take a wider range. We adopt no sentiment because it is ancient or
popular. We refer to no authority but what proves itself to be correct.
And we ask no one to adopt our opinions any farther than they agree with
the fixed laws of nature in the regulation of matter and thought, and
apply in common practice among men.

Have we not a right to expect, in return, that you will be equally
honest to yourselves and the subject before us? So far as the errors of
existing systems shall be exposed, will you not reject them, and adopt
whatever appears conclusively true and practically useful? Will you, can
you, be satisfied to adopt for yourselves and teach to others, systems
of grammar, for no other reason than because they are old, and claim the
support of the learned and honorable?

Such a course, generally adopted, would give the ever-lasting quietus to
all improvement. It would be a practical adoption of the philosophy of
the Dutchman, who was content to carry his grist in one end of the sack
and a stone to balance it in the other, assigning for a reason, that his
honored father had always done so before him. Who would be content to
adopt the astrology of the ancients, in preferance to astronomy as now
taught, because the latter is more modern? Who would spend three years
in transcribing a copy of the Bible, when a better could be obtained
for one dollar, because manuscripts were thus procured in former times?
What lady would prefer to take her cards, wheel, and loom, and spend a
month or two in manufacturing for herself a dress, when a better could
be earned in half the time, merely because her respected grandmother did
so before her? Who would go back a thousand years to find a model for
society, rejecting all improvements in the arts and sciences, because
they are innovations, encroachments upon the opinions and practices of
learned and honorable men?

I can not believe there is a person in this respected audience whose
mind is in such voluntary slavery as to induce the adoption of such a
course. I see before me minds which sparkle in every look, and thoughts
which are ever active, to acquire what is true, and adopt what is
useful. And I flatter myself that the time spent in the investigation of
the science of language will not be unpleasant or unprofitable.

I feel the greater confidence from the consideration that your minds are
yet untrammeled; not but what many, probably most of you, have already
studied the popular systems of grammar, and understood them; if such a
thing is possible; but because you have shown a disposition to learn, by
becoming members of this Institute, the object of which is the
improvement of its members.

Let us therefore make an humble attempt, with all due candor and
discretion, to enter upon the inquiry before us with an unflinching
determination to push our investigations beyond all reasonable doubt,
and never rest satisfied till we have conquered all conquerable
obstacles, and come into the possession of the light and liberty of

The attempt here made will not be considered unimportant, by those who
have known the difficulties attending the study of language. If any
course can be marked out to shorten the time tediously spent in the
acquisition of what is rarely attained--a thoro knowledge of language--a
great benefit will result to the community; children will save months
and years to engage in other useful attainments, and the high
aspirations of the mind for truth and knowledge will not be curbed in
its first efforts to improve by a set of technical and arbitrary rules.
They will acquire a habit of thinking, of deep reflection; and never
adopt, for fact, what appears unreasonable or inconsistent, merely
because great or good men have said it is so. They will feel an
independence of their own, and adopt a course of investigation which
cannot fail of the most important consequences. It is not the saving of
time, however, for which we propose a change in the system of teaching
language. In this respect, it is the study of one's life. New facts are
constantly developing themselves, new combinations of ideas and words
are discovered, and new beauties presented at every advancing step. It
is to acquire a knowledge of correct principles, to induce a habit of
correct thinking, a freedom of investigation, and at that age when the
character and language of life are forming. It is, in short, to exhibit
before you truth of the greatest practical importance, not only to you,
but to generations yet unborn, in the most essential affairs of human
life, that I have broached the hated subject of grammar, and undertaken
to reflect light upon this hitherto dark and disagreeable subject.

With a brief sketch of the outlines of language, as based on the fixed
laws of nature, and the agreement of those who employ it, I shall
conclude the present lecture.

We shall consider all language as governed by the invariable laws of
nature, and as depending on the conventional regulations of men.

Words are the signs of ideas. Ideas are the impressions of things.
Hence, in all our attempts to investigate the important principles of
language, we shall employ the sign as the means of coming at the thing

Language has usually been considered under four divisions, viz.:
Orthography, Etymology, Syntax, and Prosody.

Orthography is _right spelling_; the combination of certain letters into
words in such a manner as to agree with the spoken words used to denote
an idea. We shall not labor this point, altho we conceive a great
improvement might be effected in this department of learning. My only
wish is to select from all the forms of spelling, the most simple and
consistent. Constant changes are taking place in the method of making
words, and we would not refuse to cast in our mite to make the standard
more correct and easy. We would prune off by degrees all unnecessary
appendages, as unsounded or italic letters, and write out words so as to
be capable of a distinct pronunciation. But this change must be
_gradually_ effected. From the spelling adopted two centuries ago, a
wonderful improvement has taken place. And we have not yet gone beyond
the possibility of improvement. Let us not be too sensitive on this
point, nor too tenacious of old forms. Most of our dictionaries differ
in many respects in regard to the true system of orthography, and our
true course is to adopt every improvement which is offered. Thro out
this work we shall spell some words different from what is customary,
but intend not, thereby, to incur the ignominy of bad spellers. Let
small improvements be adopted, and our language may soon be redeemed
from the difficulties which have perplexed beginners in their first
attempts to convey ideas by written words.[1]

In that department of language denominated Etymology, we shall contend
that all words are reducible to two general classes, nouns and verbs;
or, _things_ and _actions_. We shall, however, admit of subdivisions,
and treat of pronouns, adjectives, and contractions. We shall contend
for only two cases of nouns, one kind of pronouns, one kind of verbs,
that all are active; three modes, and as many tenses; that articles,
adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections, have no
distinctive character, no existence, in fact, to warrant a "local
habitation or a name."

In the composition of sentences, a few general rules of Syntax may be
given; but the principal object to be obtained, is the possession of
correct ideas derived from a knowledge of things, and the most approved
words to express them; the combination of words in a sentence will
readily enough follow.

Prosody relates to the quantity of syllables, rules of accent and
pronunciation, and the arrangement of syllables and words so as to
produce harmony. It applies specially to versification. As our object is
not to make poets, who, it is said, "are born, and not made," but to
teach the true principles of language, we shall give no attention to
this finishing stroke of composition.

In our next we shall lay before you the principles upon which all
language depends, and the process by which its use is to be acquired.



    General principles of Language.--Business of Grammar.--Children are
    Philosophers.--Things, ideas, and words.--Actions.--Qualities
    of things.--Words without ideas.--Grammatical terms inappropriate.--
    Principles of Language permanent.--Errors in mental science.--Facts
    admit of no change.--Complex ideas.--Ideas of qualities.--An
    example.--New ideas.--Unknown words.--Signs without things
    signified.--Fixed laws regulate matter and mind.

All language depends on two general principles.

_First._ The fixed and unvarying laws of nature which regulate matter
and mind.

_Second._ The agreement of those who use it.

In accordance with these principles all language must be explained. It
is not only needless but impossible for us to deviate from them. They
remain the same in all ages and in all countries. It should be the
object of the grammarian, and of all who employ language in the
expression of ideas, to become intimately acquainted with their use.

It is the business of grammar to explain, not only verbal language, but
also the sublime principles upon which all written or spoken language
depends. It forms an important part of physical and mental science,
which, correctly explained, is abundantly simple and extensively useful
in its application to the affairs of human life and the promotion of
human enjoyment.

It will not be contended that we are assuming a position beyond the
capacities of learners, that the course here adopted is too philosophic.
Such is not the fact. Children are philosophers by nature. All their
ideas are derived from things as presented to their observations. No
mother learns her child to lisp the name of a thing which has no being,
but she chooses objects with which it is most familiar, and which are
most constantly before it; such as father, mother, brother, sister.

She constantly points to the object named, that a distinct impression
may be made upon its mind, and the thing signified, the idea of the
thing, and the name which represents it, are all inseparably associated
together. If the father is absent, the child may _think_ of him from the
idea or impression which his person and affection has produced in the
mind. If the mother pronounces his _name_ with which it has become
familiar, the child will start, look about for the object, or thing
signified by the _name_, father, and not being able to discover him,
will settle down contented with the _idea_ of him deeply impressed on
the mind, and as distinctly understood as if the father was present in
person. So with every thing else.

Again, after the child has become familiar with the name of the being
called father; the name, idea and object itself being intimately
associated the mother will next begin to teach it another lesson;
following most undeviatingly the course which nature and true philosophy
mark out. The father comes and goes, is present or absent. She says on
his return, father _come_, and the little one looks round to see the
thing signified by the word father, the idea of which is distinctly
impressed on the mind, and which it now sees present before it. But this
loved object has not always been here. It had looked round and called
for the father. But the mother had told it _he was gone_. Father gone,
father come, is her language, and here the child begins to learn ideas
of actions. Of this it had, at first, no notion whatever, and never
thought of the father except when his person was present before it, for
no impressions had been distinctly made upon the mind which could be
called up by a sound of which it could have no conceptions whatever. Now
that it has advanced so far, the idea of the father is retained, even
tho he is himself absent, and the child begins to associate the notion
of coming and going with his presence or absence. Following out this
course the mind becomes acquainted with things and actions, or the
changes which things undergo.

Next, the mother begins to learn her offspring the distinction and
qualities of things. When the little sister comes to it in innocent
playfulness the mother says, "_good_ sister," and with the descriptive
word _good_ it soon begins to associate the quality expressed by the
affectionate regard, of its sister. But when that sister strikes the
child, or pesters it in any way, the mother says "_naughty_ sister,"
"bad sister." It soon comprehends the descriptive words, _good_ and
_bad_, and along with them carries the association of ideas which such
conduct produces. In the same way it learns to distinguish the
difference between _great_ and _small_, _cold_ and _hot_, hard and soft.

In this manner the child becomes acquainted with the use of language. It
first becomes acquainted with things, the idea of which is left upon the
mind, or, more properly, the _impression of which_, left on the mind,
_constitutes the idea_; and a vocabulary of words are learned, which
represent these ideas, from which it may select those best calculated
to express its meaning whenever a conversation is had with another.

You will readily perceive the correctness of our first proposition, that
all language depends on the fixed and unerring laws of nature. Things
exist. A knowledge of them produces ideas in the mind, and sounds or
signs are adopted as vehicles to convey these ideas from one to another.

It would be absurd and ridiculous to suppose that any person, however
great, or learned, or wise, could employ language correctly without a
knowledge of the things expressed by that language. No matter how chaste
his words, how lofty his phrases, how sweet the intonations, or mellow
the accents. It would avail him nothing if _ideas_ were not represented
thereby. It would all be an unknown tongue to the hearer or reader. It
would not be like the loud rolling thunder, for that tells the wondrous
power of God. It would not be like the soft zephyrs of evening, the
radiance of the sun, the twinkling of the stars; for they speak the
intelligible language of sublimity itself, and tell of the kindness and
protection of our Father who is in heaven. It would not be like the
sweet notes of the choral songsters of the grove, for they warble hymns
of gratitude to God; not like the boding of the distant owl, for that
tells the profound solemnity of night; not like the hungry lion roaring
for his prey, for that tells of death and plunder; not like the distant
notes of the clarion, for that tells of blood and carnage, of tears and
anguish, of widowhood and orphanage. It can be compared to nothing but a
Babel of confusion in which their own folly is worse confounded. And
yet, I am sorry to say it, the languages of all ages and nations have
been too frequently perverted, and compiled into a heterogeneous mass
of abstruse, metaphysical volumes, whose only recommendation is the
elegant bindings in which they are enclosed.

And grammars themselves, whose pretended object is to teach the rules of
speaking and writing correctly, form but a miserable exception to this
sweeping remark. I defy any grammarian, author, or teacher of the
numberless systems, which come, like the frogs of Egypt, all of one
genus, to cover the land, to give a reasonable explanation of even the
terms they employ to define their meaning, if indeed, meaning they have.
What is meant by an "_in_-definite article," a _dis_-junctive
_con_-junction, an _ad_-verb which qualifies an _adjective_, and
"sometimes another _ad_-verb?" Such "parts of speech" have no existence
in fact, and their adoption in rules of grammar, have been found
exceedingly mischievous and perplexing. "Adverbs and conjunctions," and
"_adverbial_ phrases," and "conjunctive expressions," may serve as
common sewers for a large and most useful class of words, which the
teachers of grammar and lexicographers have been unable to explain; but
learners will gain little information by being told that such is an
_adverbial phrase_, and such, a _conjunctive expression_. This is an
easy method, I confess, a sort of wholesale traffic, in parsing
(_passing_) language, and may serve to cloak the ignorance of the
teachers and makers of grammars. But it will reflect little light on the
principles of language, or prove very efficient helps to "speak or write
with propriety." Those who _think_, will demand the _meaning_ of these
words, and the reason of their use. When that is ascertained, little
difficulty will be found in giving them a place in the company of
respectable words. But I am digressing. More shall be said upon this
point in a future lecture, and in its proper place.

I was endeavoring to establish the position that all language depends
upon permanent principles; that words are the signs of ideas, and ideas
are the impressions of things communicated to the mind thro the medium
of some one of the five senses. I think I have succeeded so far as
simple material things are concerned, to the satisfaction of all who
have heard me. It may, perhaps, be more difficult for me to explain the
words employed to express complex ideas, and things of immateriality,
such as mind, and its attributes. But the rules previously adopted will,
I apprehend, apply with equal ease and correctness in this case; and we
shall have cause to admire the simple yet sublime foundation upon which
the whole superstructure of language is based.

In pursuing this investigation I shall endeavor to avoid all abstruse
and metaphysical reasoning, present no wild conjectures, or vain
hypotheses; but confine myself to plain, common place matter of fact. We
have reason to rejoice that a wonderful improvement in the science and
cultivation of the mind has taken place in these last days; that we are
no longer puzzled with the strange phantoms, the wild speculations which
occupied the giant minds of a Descartes, a Malebranch, a Locke, a Reid,
a Stewart, and hosts of others, whose shining talents would have
qualified them for the brightest ornaments of literature, real
benefactors of mankind, had not their education lead them into dark and
metaphysical reasonings, a continued tissue of the wildest vagaries, in
which they became entangled, till, at length, they were entirely lost in
the labyrinth of their own conjectures.

The occasion of all their difficulty originated in an attempt to
investigate the faculties of the mind without any means of getting at
it. They did not content themselves with an adoption of the principles
which lay at the foundation of all true philosophy, viz., that the
facts to be accounted for, _do exist_; that truth is eternal, and we are
to become acquainted with it by the means employed for its development.
They quitted the world of materiality they inhabited, refused to examine
the development of mind as the effect of an existing cause; and at one
bold push, entered the world of thought, and made the unhallowed attempt
to reason, a priori, concerning things which can only be known by their
manifestations. But they soon found themselves in a strange land,
confused with sights and sounds unknown, in the _explanation_ of which
they, of course, choose terms as unintelligible to their readers, as the
_ideal realities_ were to them. This course, adopted by Aristotle, has
been too closely followed by those who have come after him.[2] But a new
era has dawned upon the philosophy of the mind, and a corresponding
change in the method of inculcating the principles of language must

In all our investigations we must take things as we find them, and
account for them as far as we can. It would be a thankless task to
attempt a change of principles in any thing. That would be an
encroachment of the Creator's rights. It belongs to mortals to use the
things they have as not abusing them; and to Deity to regulate the laws
by which those things are governed. And that man is the wisest, the
truest philosopher, and brightest Christian, who acquaints himself with
those laws as they do exist in the regulation of matter and mind, in the
promotion of physical and moral enjoyment, and endeavors to conform to
them in all his thoughts and actions.

From this apparent digression you will at once discover our object. We
must not endeavor to change the principles of language, but to
understand and explain them; to ascertain, as far as possible, the
actions of the mind in obtaining ideas, and the use of language in
expressing them. We may not be able to make our sentiments understood;
but if they are not, the fault will originate in no obscurity in the
facts themselves, but in our inability either to understand them or the
words employed in their expression. Having been in the habit of using
words with either no meaning or a wrong one, it may be difficult to
comprehend the subject of which they treat. A man may have a quantity of
sulphur, charcoal, and nitre, but it is not until he learns their
properties and combinations that he can make gunpowder. Let us then
adopt a careful and independent course of reasoning, resolved to meddle
with nothing we do not understand, and to use no words until we know
their meaning.

A complex idea is a combination of several simple ones, as a tree is
made up of roots, a trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves. And these again
may be divided into the wood, the bark, the sap, &c. Or we may employ
the botanical terms, and enumerate its external and internal parts and
qualities; the whole anatomy and physiology, as well as variety and
history of trees of that species, and show its characteristic
distinctions; for the mind receives a different impression on looking at
a maple, a birch, a poplar, a tamarisk, a sycamore, or hemlock. In this
way complex ideas are formed, distinct in their parts, but blended in a
common whole; and, in conformity with the law regulating language,
words, sounds or signs, are employed to express the complex whole, or
each distinctive part. The same may be said of all things of like
character. But this idea I will illustrate more at large before the
close of this lecture.

First impressions are produced by a view of material things, as we have
already seen; and the notion of action is obtained from a knowledge of
the changes these things undergo. The idea of quality and definition is
produced by contrast and comparison. Children soon learn the difference
between a sweet apple and a sour one, a white rose and a red one, a hard
seat and a soft one, harmonious sounds and those that are discordant, a
pleasant smell and one that is disagreeable. As the mind advances, the
application is varied, and they speak of a sweet rose, changing from
_taste_ and _sight_ to smell, of a sweet song, of a hard apple, &c.
According to the qualities thus learned, you may talk to them
intelligibly of the _sweetness_ of an apple, the _color_ of a rose, the
_hardness_ of iron, the _harmony_ of sounds, the _smell_ or scent of
things which possess that quality. As these agree or disagree with their
comfort, they will call them _good_ or _bad_, and speak of the qualities
of goodness and badness, as if possessed by the thing itself.

In this apparently indiscriminate use of words, the ideas remain
distinct; and each sign or object calls them up separately and
associates them together, till, at length, in the single object is
associated all the ideas entertained of its size, qualities, relations,
and affinities.

In this manner, after long, persevering toil, principles of thought are
fixed, and a foundation laid for the whole course of future thinking and
speaking. The ideas become less simple and distinct. Just as fast as the
mind advances in the knowledge of things, language keeps pace with the
ideas, and even goes beyond them, so that in process of time a single
term will not unfrequently represent a complexity of ideas, one of which
will signify a whole combination of things.

On the other hand, there are many instances where the single declaration
of a fact may convey to the untutored mind, a single thought or nearly
so, when the better cultivated will take into the account the whole
process by which it is effected. To illustrate: _a man killed a deer_.
Here the boy would see and imagine more than he is yet fully able to
comprehend. He will see the obvious fact that the man levels his musket,
the gun goes off with a loud report, and the deer falls and dies. How
this is all produced he does not understand, but knowing the fact he
asserts the single truth--the man killed the deer. As the child
advances, he will learn that the sentence conveys to the mind more than
he at first perceived. He now understands how it was accomplished. The
man had a gun. Then he must go back to the gunsmith and see how it was
made, thence back to the iron taken from its bed, and wrought into bars;
all the processes by which it is brought into the shape of a gun, the
tools and machinery employed; the wood for the stock, its quality and
production; the size, form and color of the lock, the principle upon
which it moves; the flint, the effect produced by a collision with the
steel, or a percussion cap, and its composition; till he finds a single
gun in the hands of a man. The man is present with this gun. The motives
which brought him here; the movements of his limbs, regulated by the
determinations of the mind, and a thousand other such thoughts, might be
taken into the account. Then the deer, his size, form, color, manner of
living, next may claim a passing thought. But I need not enlarge. Here
they both stand. The man has just seen the deer. As quick as thought his
eye passes over the ground, sees the prey is within proper distance,
takes aim, pulls the trigger, that loosens a spring, which forces the
flint against the steel; this produces a spark, which ignites the
charcoal, and the sulphur and nitre combined, explode and force the wad,
which forces the ball from the gun, and is borne thro the air till it
reaches the deer, enters his body by displacing the skin and flesh,
deranges the animal functions, and death ensues. The whole and much more
is expressed in the single phrase, "a man killed a deer."

It would be needless for me to stop here, and examine all the operations
of the mind in coming at this state of knowledge. That is not the object
of the present work. Such a duty belongs to another treatise, which may
some day be undertaken, on logic and the science of the mind. The hint
here given will enable you to perceive how the mind expands, and how
language keeps pace with every advancing step, and, also, how
combinations are made from simple things, as a house is made of timber,
boards, shingles, nails, and paints; or of bricks, stone, and mortar; as
the case may be, and when completed, a single term may express the
idea, and you speak of a wood, or a brick house. Following this
suggestion, by tracing the operations of the mind in the young child, or
your own, very minutely, in the acquisition of any knowledge before
wholly unknown to you, as a new language, or a new science; botany,
mineralogy, chemistry, or phrenology; you will readily discover how the
mind receives new impressions of things, and a new vocabulary is adopted
to express the ideas formed of plants, minerals, chemical properties,
and the development of the capacities of the mind as depending on
material organs; how these things are changed and combined; and how
their existence and qualities, changes and combinations, are expressed
by words, to be retained, or conveyed to other minds.

But suppose you talk to a person wholly unacquainted with these things,
will he understand you? Talk to him of stamens, pistils, calyxes; of
monandria, diandria, triandria; of gypsum, talc, calcareous spar,
quartz, topaz, mica, garnet, pyrites, hornblende, augite, actynolite; of
hexahedral, prismatic, rhomboidal, dodecahedral; of acids and alkalies;
of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon; of the configuration of the
brain, and its relative powers; do all this, and what will he know of
your meaning? So of all science. Words are to be understood from the
things they are employed to represent. You may as well talk to a man in
the hebrew, chinese, or choctaw languages, as in our own, if he does not
know what is signified by the words selected as the medium of thought.

Your language may be most pure, perfect, full of meaning, but you cannot
make yourself understood till your hearers can look thro your signs to
the things signified. You may as well present before them a picture of

The great fault in the popular system of education is easily accounted
for, particularly in reference to language. Children are taught to study
signs without looking at the thing signified. In this way they are mere
copyists, and the mind can never expand so as to make them independent,
original thinkers. In fact, they can, in this way, never learn to reason
well or employ language correctly; no more than a painter can be
successful in his art, by merely looking at the pictures of others
without having ever seen the originals. A good artist is a close
observer of nature. So children should be left free to examine and
reflect, and the signs will then serve their proper use--the means of
acquiring the knowledge of things. In vain you may give a scholar a
knowledge of the Hebrew, Greek, or Latin, learn him to translate with
rapidity or speak our own language fluently. If he has not thereby
learned the knowledge of things signified by such language, he is, in
principle, advanced no farther than the parrot which says "pretty poll,
pretty poll."

I am happy, however, in the consideration that a valuable change is
taking place in this respect. Geography is no longer taught on the old
systems, but maps are given to represent more vividly land and water,
rivers, islands, and mountains. The study of arithmetic, chemistry, and
nearly all the sciences have been materially improved within a few
years. Grammar alone remains in quiet possession of its unquestioned
authority. Its nine "parts of speech," its three genders, its three
cases, its half dozen kinds of pronouns, and as many moods and tenses,
have rarely been disquieted. A host of book makers have fondled around
them, but few have dared molest them, finding them so snugly ensconced
under the sanctity of age, and the venerated opinions of learned and
good men. Of the numberless attempts to simplify grammar, what has been
the success? Wherein do modern "simplifiers" differ from Murray? and he
was only a _compiler_! They have all discovered his errors. But who has
corrected them? They have all deviated somewhat from his manner. But
what is that but saying, that with all his grammatical knowledge, he
could not explain his own meaning?

All the trouble originates in this; the rules of grammar have not been
sought for where they are only to be found, in the laws that govern
matter and thought. Arbitrary rules have been adopted which will never
apply in practice, except in special cases, and the attempt to bind
language down to them is as absurd as to undertake to chain thought, or
stop the waters of Niagara with a straw. Language will go on, and keep
pace with the mind, and grammar should explain it so as to be correctly

I wish you to keep these principles distinctly in view all thro my
remarks, that you may challenge every position I assume till proved to
be correct--till you distinctly understand it and definite impressions
are made upon your minds. In this way you will discover a beauty and
perfection in language before unknown; its rules will be found few and
simple, holding with most unyielding tenacity to the sublime principles
upon which they depend; and you will have reason to admire the works and
adore the character of the great Parent Intellect, whose presence and
protection pervade all his works and regulate the laws of matter and
mind. You will feel yourselves involuntarily filled with sentiments of
gratitude for the gift of mind, its affections, powers, and means of
operation and communication, and resolved more than ever to employ these
faculties in human improvement and the advancement of general happiness.



    Principles never alter.--They should be known.--Grammar a most
    important branch of science.--Spoken and written Language.--Idea
    of a thing.--How expressed.--An example.--Picture writing.--An
    anecdote.--Ideas expressed by actions.--Principles of spoken and
    written Language.--Apply universally.--Two examples.--English
    language.--Foreign words.--Words in science.--New words.--How

We now come to take a nearer view of language as generally understood by
grammar. But we shall have no occasion to depart from the principles
already advanced, for there is existing in practice nothing which may
not be accounted for in theory; as there can be no effect without an
efficient cause to produce it.

We may, however, long remain ignorant of the true explanation of the
principles involved; but the fault is ours, and not in the things
themselves. The earth moved with as much grandeur and precision around
its axis and in its orbit before the days of Gallileo Gallilei, when
philosophers believed it flat and stationary, as it has done since. So
the great principles on which depends the existence and use of all
language are permanent, and may be correctly employed by those who have
never examined them; but this does not prove that to be ignorant is
better than to be wise. We may have taken food all our days without
knowing much of the process by which it is converted into nourishment
and incorporated into our bodies, without ever having heard of
delutition chymification, chylification, or even digestion, as a whole;
but this is far from convincing me that the knowledge of these things is
unimportant, or that ignorance of them is not the cause of much disease
and suffering among mankind. And it is, or should be, the business of
the physiologist to explain these things, and show the great practical
benefit resulting from a general knowledge of them. So the grammarian
should act as a sort of physiologist of language. He should analyze all
its parts and show how it is framed together to constitute a perfect

Instead of exacting of you a blind submission to a set of technical
expressions, and arbitrary rules, I most urgently exhort you to
continue, with unremitting assiduity, your inquiries into the reason and
propriety of the positions which may be taken. It is the business of
philosophy, not to meddle with things to direct how they should be, but
to account for them and their properties and relations as they are. So
it is the business of grammar to explain language as it exists in use,
and exhibit the reason why it is used thus, and what principles must be
observed to employ it correctly in speaking and writing. This method is
adopted to carry out the principles already established, and show their
adaptation to the wants of the community, and how they may be correctly
and successfully employed. Grammar considered in this light forms a
department in the science of the mind by no means unimportant. And it
can not fail to be deeply interesting to all who would employ it in the
business, social, literary, moral, or religious concerns of life. Those
who have thoughts to communicate, or desire an acquaintance with the
minds of others, can not be indifferent to the means on which such
intercourse depends. I am convinced, therefore, that you will give me
your most profound attention as I pursue the subject of the present
lecture somewhat in detail. And I hope you will not consider me tedious
or unnecessarily prolix in my remarks.

I will not be particular in my remarks upon the changes of spoken and
written language, altho that topic of itself, in the different sounds
and signs employed in different ages and by different nations to express
the same idea, would form a most interesting theme for several lectures.
But that work must be reserved for a future occasion. You are all
acquainted with the signs, written and spoken, which are employed in our
language as vehicles (some of them like omnibusses) of thought to carry
ideas from one mind to another. Some of you doubtless are acquainted
with the application of this fact in other languages. In other words,
you know how to sound the name of a thing, how to describe its
properties as far as you understand them, and its attitudes or changes.
This you can do by vocal sounds, or written, or printed signs.

On the other hand, you can receive a similar impression by hearing the
description of another, or by seeing it written or printed. But here you
will bear in mind the fact that the word, spoken or written, is but the
sign of the idea derived from the thing signified. For example: Here is
an apple. I do not now speak of its composition, the skin, the pulp,
&c.; nor of its qualities, whether sour, or sweet, or bitter, good or
bad, great or small, long or short, round or flat, red, or white, or
yellow. I speak of a single thing--an apple. Here it is, present before
you. Look at it. It is now removed. You do not see it. Your minds are
occupied with something else, in looking at that organ, or this
representation of Solomon's temple, or, perhaps, lingering in melancholy
review of your old systems of grammar thro which you plodded at a
tedious rate, goaded on by the stimulus of the ferule, or the fear of
being called ignorant. From that unhappy reverie I recal your minds, by
saying _apple_. An apple? where? There is none in sight. No; but you
have distinct recollections of a single object I just now held before
you. You see it, mentally, and were you painters you might paint its
likeness. What has brought this object so vividly before you? The single
sound _apple_. This sound has called up the idea produced in your mind
on looking at this object which I now again present before you. Here is
the thing represented--the apple. Again I lay it aside, and commence a
conversation with you on the varieties of apples, the form, color,
flavor, manner of production, their difference from other fruit, where
found, when, and by whom. Here! look again. What do you see?
A-P-P-L-E--_Apple_. What is that? The representation of the idea
produced in the mind by a certain object you saw a little while ago.
Here then you have the spoken and written signs of this single object I
now again present to your vision. This idea may also be called up by the
sense of feeling, smelling, or tasting, under certain restrictions. Here
you would be no more liable to be mistaken than by seeing. We can indeed
imagine things which would feel, and smell, and taste, and look some
like an apple, but it falls to the lot of more abstruse reasoners to
make their suppositions, and then account for them--to imagine things,
and then treat of them as realities. We are content with the knowledge
of things as they do exist, and think there is little danger of
mistaking a potato for an apple, or a squash for a pear. Tho in the dark
we may lay hold of the Frenchman's _pomme de terre_--apple of the earth,
the first bite will satisfy us of our mistake if we are not too

The same idea may be called up in your minds by a picture of the apple
presented to your sight. On this ground the picture writing of the
ancients may be accounted for; and after that, the hieroglyphics of
Egypt and other countries, which was but a step from picture writing
towards the use of the alphabet. But these signs or vehicles for the
conveyance or transmission of their thoughts, compared with the present
perfect state of language, were as aukward and uncomly as the carriages
employed for the conveyance of their bodies were compared with those now
in use. They were like ox carts drawn by mules, compared with the most
splendid barouches drawn by elegant dapple-greys.

A similar mode would be adopted now by those unacquainted with
alphabetical writing. It was so with the merchant who could not write.
He sold his neighbor a grindstone, on trust. Lest he should forget
it--lest the _idea_ of it should be obliterated from the mind--he, in
the absence of his clerk, took his book and a pen and drew out a _round
picture_ to represent it. Some months after, he dunned his neighbor for
his pay for a cheese. "I have bought no cheese of you," was the reply.
Yes, you have, for I have it charged. "You must be mistaken, for I never
bought a cheese. We always make our own." How then should I have one
charged to you? "I cannot tell. I have never had any thing here on
credit except a grindstone." Ah! that's it, that's it, only I forgot to
make a hole through it!"

Ideas may also be exchanged by actions. This is the first and strongest
language of nature. It may be employed, when words have failed, in the
most effectual manner. The angry man, choked with rage, unable to speak,
tells the violent passions, burning in his bosom, in a language which
can not be mistaken. The actions of a friend are a surer test of
friendship than all the honied words he may utter. Actions speak louder
than words. The first impressions of maternal affection are produced in
the infant mind by the soothing attentions of the mother. In the same
way we may understand the language of the deaf and dumb. Certain motions
express certain ideas. These being duly arranged and conformed to our
alphabetic signs, and well understood, the pupil may become acquainted
with book knowledge as well as we. They go by sight and not by sound. A
different method is adopted with the blind. Letters with them are so
arranged that they can _feel_ them. The signs thus felt correspond with
the sounds they hear. Here they must stop. They cannot see to describe.
Those who are so unfortunate as to be blind and deaf, can have but a
faint knowledge of language, or the ideas of others.

On similar principles we may explain the pantomime plays sometimes
performed, where the most entertaining scenes of love and murder are
represented, but not a word spoken.

Three things are always to be born in mind in the use and study of all
language: 1st, the thing signified; 2d, the idea of the thing; and 3d,
the word or sign chosen to represent it.

_Things_ exist.

Thinking beings conceive _ideas of things_.

Those who employ language adopt _sounds or signs to convey those ideas_
to others.

On these obvious principles rest the whole superstructure of all
language, spoken or written. Objects are presented to the mind,
impressions are there made, which, retained, constitute the idea, and,
by agreement, certain words are employed as the future signs or
representations of those ideas. If we saw an object in early life and
knew its _name_, the mention of that name will recal afresh the idea
which had long lain dormant in the memory, (if I may so speak,) and we
can converse about it as correctly as when we first saw it.

These principles, I have said, hold good in all languages. Proof of this
may not improperly be offered here, provided it be not too prolix. I
will endeavor to be brief.

In an open area of sufficient dimensions is congregated a delegation
from every language under heaven. All are so arranged as to face a
common center. A white horse is led into that spot and all look at the
living animal which stands before them. The same impression must be made
on all minds so far as a single animal is concerned. But as the whole is
made up of parts, so their minds will soon diverge from a single idea,
and one will think of his size, compared with other horses; another of
his form; another of his color. Some will think of his noble appearance,
others of his ability to travel, or (in jockey phrase) his _speed_. The
farrier will look for his blemishes, to see if he is _sound_, and the
jockey at his teeth, to _guess_ at his _age_. The anatomist will, in
thought, dissect him into parts and see every bone, sinew, cartilage,
blood vessel, his stomach, lungs, liver, heart, entrails; every part
will be laid open; and while the thoughtless urchin sees a single
object--a white horse--others will, at a single glance, read volumes of
instruction. Oh! the importance of knowledge! how little is it
regarded! What funds of instruction might be gathered from the lessons
every where presented to the mind!

One impression would be made on all minds in reference to the single
tangible object before them; no matter how learned or ignorant. There
stands an animal obvious to all. Let him be removed out of sight, and a
very exact picture of him suspended in his place. All again agree. Here
then is the proof of our first general principle, viz. all language
depends on the fixed and unvarying laws of nature.

Let the picture be removed and a man step forth and pronounce the word,
_ippos_. The Greek starts up and says, "Yes, it is so." The rest do not
comprehend him. He then writes out distinctly, [Greek: IPPOS]. They are
in the dark as to the meaning. They know not whether a horse, a man, or
a goose is named. All the Greeks, however, understand the meaning the
same as when the horse or picture was before them, for they had _agreed_
that _ippos_ should represent the _idea_ of that animal.

Forth steps another, and pronounces the word _cheval_. Every Frenchman
is aroused: Oui, monsieur? Yes, sir. Comprenez vous? Do you understand?
he says to the rest. But they are dumb. He then writes C-H-E-V-A-L. All
are as ignorant as before, save the Frenchmen who had agreed that
_cheval_ should be the name for horse.

Next go yourself, thinking all will understand you, and say, _horse_;
but, lo! none unacquainted with your language are the wiser for the
sound you utter, or the sign you suspended before them; save, perhaps, a
little old Saxon, who, at first looks deceived by the similarity of
sound, but, seeing the sign, is as demure as ever, for he omits the _e_,
and pronounces it shorter than we do, more like a yorkshire man. But
why are you not understood? Because others have not entered into an
_agreement_ with you that _h-o-r-s-e_, spoken or written, shall
represent that animal.

Take another example. Place the living animal called man before them.
Less trouble will be found in this case than in the former, for there is
a nearer agreement than before in regard to the signs which shall be
employed to express the idea. This word occurs with very little
variation in the modern languages, derived undoubtedly from the
Teutonic, with a little change in the spelling, as Saxon _mann_ or
_mon_, Gothic _manna_, German, Danish, Dutch, Swedish and Icelandic
like ours. In the south of Europe, however, this word varies as well as

Our language is derived more directly from the old Saxon than from any
other, but has a great similarity to the French and Latin, and a kind of
cousin-german to all the languages of Europe, ancient and modern. Ours,
indeed, is a compound from most other languages, retaining some of their
beauties and many of their defects. We can boast little distinctive
character of our own. As England was possessed by different nations at
different periods, so different dialects were introduced, and we can
trace our language to as many sources, German, Danish, Saxon, French,
and Roman, which were the different nations amalgamated into the British
empire. We retain little of the real old english--few words which may
not be traced to a foreign extraction. Different people settling in a
country would of course carry their ideas and manner of expressing them;
and from the whole compound a general agreement would, in process of
time, take place, and a uniform language be established. Such is the
origin and condition of our language, as well as every other modern
tongue of which we have any knowledge.

There is one practice of which our savans are guilty, at which I do most
seriously demur--the extravagant introduction of exotic words into our
vocabulary, apparently for no other object than to swell the size of a
dictionary, and boast of having found out and defined thousands of words
more than any body else. A mania seems to have seized our
lexicographers, so that they have forsaken the good old style of
"plainness of speech," and are flourishing and brandishing about in a
cloud of verbiage as though the whole end of instruction was to teach
loquacity. And some of our popular writers and speakers have caught the
infection, and flourish in borrowed garments, prizing themselves most
highly when they use words and phrases which no body can understand.

I will not contend that in the advancement of the arts and sciences it
may not be proper to introduce foreign terms as the mean of conveying a
knowledge of those improvements to others. It is better than to coin new
words, inasmuch as they are generally adopted by all modern nations. In
this way all languages are approximating together; and when the light of
truth, science, and religion, has fully shone on all the nations, we may
hope one language will be spoken, and the promise be fulfilled, that God
has "turned unto the people a pure language, that they may call upon the
name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."

New ideas are formed like new inventions. Established principles are
employed in a new combination, so as to produce a new manifestation.
Words are chosen as nearly allied to former ideas as possible, to
express or represent this new combination. Thus, Fulton applied steam
power to navigation. A new idea was produced. A boat was seen passing
along the waters without the aid of wind or tide. Instead of coining a
new word to express the whole, a word which nobody would understand, two
old ones were combined, and "_steamboat_" became the sign to represent
the idea of the thing beheld. So with rail-road, cotton-mill, and
gun-powder. In the same way we may account for most words employed in
science, although in that case we are more dependant on foreign
languages, in as much as a large portion of our knowledge is derived
from them. But we may account for them on the same principle as above.
_Phrenology_ is a compound of two greek words, and means the science or
knowledge of the mind. So of geology, mineralogy, &c. But when
improvements are made by those who speak the english, words in our own
language are employed and used not only by ourselves, but also by those
nations who profit by our investigations.

I trust I have now said enough on the general principles of language as
applied to things. In the next lecture I will come down to a sort of
bird's eye view of grammar. But my soul abhors arbitrary rules so
devoutly, I can make no promises how long I will continue in close
communion with set forms of speech. I love to wander too well to remain
confined to one spot, narrowed up in the limits fixed by others. Freedom
is the empire of the mind; it abjures all fetters, all slavery. It
kneels at the altar of virtue and worships at the shrine of truth. No
obstacles should be thrown in the way of its progress. No limits should
be set to it but those of the Almighty.



    Nouns defined.--Things.--Qualities of matter.--Mind.--Spiritual
    beings.--Qualities of mind.--How learned.--Imaginary things.--
    Negation.--Names of actions.--Proper nouns.--Characteristic
    names.--Proper nouns may become common.

Your attention is, this evening, invited to the first divisions of
words, called _Nouns_. This is a most important class, and as such
deserves our particular notice.

    _Nouns are the names of things._

The word _noun_ is derived from the Latin _nomen_, French _nom_. It
means _name_. Hence the definition above given.

In grammar it is employed to distinguish that class of words which name
things, or stand as signs or representatives of things.

We use the word _thing_ in its broadest sense, including every possible
entity; every being, or thing, animate or inanimate, material or
immaterial, real or imaginary, physical, moral, or intellectual. It is
the noun of the Saxon _thincan_ or _thingian_, to think; and is used to
express every conceivable object of thought, in whatever form or manner
presented to the human mind.

Every word employed to designate things, or name them, is to be ranked
in the class called _nouns_, or names. You have only to determine
whether a word is used thus, to learn whether it belongs to this or
some other class of words. Here let me repeat:

    1. Things exist.
    2. We conceive ideas of things.
    3. We use sounds or signs to communicate these ideas to others.
    4. We denominate the class of words thus used, _nouns_.

Perhaps I ought to stop here, or pass to another topic. But as these
lectures are intended to be so plain that all can understand my meaning,
I must indulge in a few more remarks before advancing farther.

In addition to individual, tangible objects, we conceive ideas of the
_qualities_ of things, and give _names_ to such qualities, which become
_nouns_. Thus, the _hardness_ of iron, the _heat_ of fire, the _color_
of a rose, the _bitterness_ of gall, the _error_ of grammars. The
following may serve to make my views more plain. Take two tumblers, the
one half filled with water, the other with milk; mix them together. You
can now talk of the milk in the water, or the water in the milk. Your
ideas are distinct, tho the objects are so intimately blended, that they
can not be separated. So with the qualities of things.

We also speak of mind, intellect, soul; but to them we can give no form,
and of them paint no likeness. Yet we have ideas of them, and employ
words to express them, which become _nouns_.

This accounts for the reason why the great Parent Intellect has strictly
forbidden, in the decalogue, that a likeness of him should be
constructed. His being and attributes are discoverable only thro the
medium of his works and word. No man can see him and live. It would be
the height of folly--it would be more--it would be blasphemy--to
attempt to paint the likeness of him whose presence fills
immensity--whose center is every where, and whose circumference is no
where. The name of this Spirit or Being was held in the most profound
reverence by the Jews, as we shall have occasion to mention when we come
to treat of the verb =to be=.

We talk of angels, and have seen the unhallowed attempt to describe
their likeness in the form of pictures, which display the fancy of the
artist very finely, but give a miserable idea of those pure spirits who
minister at the altar of God, and chant his praises in notes of the most
unspeakable delight.

We have also seen _death_ and the pale horse, the firy dragon, the
mystery of Babylon, and such like things, represented on canvass; but
they betoken more of human talent to depict the marvellous, than a
strict regard for truth. Beelzebub, imps, and all Pandemonium, may be
vividly imagined and finely arranged in fiction, and we can name them.
Wizzards, witches, and fairies, may play their sportive tricks in the
human brain, and receive names as tho they were real.

We also think and speak of the qualities and affections of the mind as
well as matter, as wisdom, knowledge, virtue, vice, love, hatred, anger.
Our conceptions in this case may be less distinct, but we have ideas,
and use words to express them. There is, we confess, a greater liability
to mistake and misunderstand when treating of mind and its qualities,
than of matter. The reason is evident, people know less of it. Its
operations are less distinct and more varying.

The child first sees material objects. It is taught to name them. It
next learns the qualities of things; as the sweetness of sugar, the
darkness of night, the beauty of flowers. From this it ascends by
gradation to the higher attainments of knowledge as revealed in the
empire of mind, as well as matter. Great care should be taken that this
advancement be easy, natural, and thoro. It should be constantly
impressed with the importance of obtaining clear and definite ideas of
things, and never employ words till it has ideas to express; never name
a thing of which it has no knowledge. This is ignorance.

It would be well, perhaps, to extend this remark to those older than
children, in years, but less in real practical knowledge. The remark is
of such general application, that no specification need be made, except
to the case before us; to those affected proficients in grammar, whose
only knowledge is the memory of words, which to them have no meanings,
if, indeed, the writers themselves had any to express by them; a fact we
regard as questionable, at best. There is hardly a teacher of grammar,
whose self-esteem is not enormous, who will not confess himself ignorant
on many of the important principles of language; that he has never
understood, and could never explain them. He finds no difficulty in
repeating what the books say, but if called upon to express an opinion
of his own, he has none to give. He has learned and used words without
knowing their meaning.

Children should be taught language as they are taught music. They should
learn the simple tones on which the whole science depends. Distinct
impressions of sounds should be made on their minds, and the characters
which represent them should be inseparably associated with them. They
will then learn tunes from the compositions of those sounds, as
represented by notes. By dint of application, they will soon become
familiar with these principles, if possessed of a talent for song, and
may soon pass the acme with ease, accuracy, and rapidity. But there are
those who may sing very prettily, and tolerably correct, who have never
studied the first rudiments of music. But such can never become adepts
in the science.

So there are those who use language correctly, who never saw the inside
of a grammar book, and who never examined the principles on which it
depends. But this, by no means, proves that it is better to sing by
rote, than "with the understanding." These rudiments, however, should
form the business of the nursery, rather than the grammar school. Every
mother should labor to give distinct and forcible impressions of such
things as she learns her children to _name_. She should carefully
prevent them from employing words which have no meaning, and still more
strictly should she guard them against attaching a wrong meaning to
those they do use. In this way, the foundation for future knowledge and
eminence, would be laid broad and deep. But I wander.

We attach names to imaginary things; as ghosts, genii, imps.

To this class belong the thirty thousand gods of the ancients, who were
frequently represented by emblems significant of the characters attached
to them. We employ words to name these imaginary things, so that we read
and converse about them understandingly, tho our ideas may be
exceedingly various.

Nouns are also used to express negation, of which no idea can be formed.
In this case, the mind rests on what exists, and employs a word to
express what does not. We speak of _a hole_ in the paper. But we can
form no idea of _a hole_, separated from the surrounding substances.
Remove the parts of the paper till nothing is left, and then you may
look in vain for the hole. It is not there. It never was. In the same
way we use the words nothing, nobody, nonentity, vacuum, absence, space,
blank, annihilation, and oblivion. These are relative terms, to be
understood in reference to things which are known to exist. We must know
of _some_thing before we can talk of _no_thing, of an entity before we
can think of nonentity.

In a similar way we employ words to name actions, which are produced by
the changes of objects. We speak of a race, of a flight, of a sitting or
session, of a journey, of a ride, of a walk, of a residence, etc. In all
these cases, the mind is fixed on the persons who performed these
things. Take for example, a race. Of that, we can conceive no idea
separate from the agent or object which _ran_ the _race_. Without some
other word to inform us we could not decide whether a _horse_ race, a
_foot_ race, a boat race, the race of a mill, or some other race, was
the object of remark. The same may be said of flight, for we read of the
flight of birds, the flight of Mahommed, the flight of armies, and the
flight of intellect.

We also give names to actions as tho they were taking place in the
present tense. "The _reading_ of the report was deferred;" steamboat
_racing_ is dangerous to public safety; _stealing_ is a crime; false
_teaching_ deserves the reprobation of all.

The hints I have given will assist you in acquiring a knowledge of nouns
as used to express ideas in vocal or written language. This subject
might be pursued further with profit, if time would permit. As the time
allotted to this lecture is nearly exhausted, I forbear. I shall
hereafter have occasion to show how a whole phrase may be used to name
an idea, and as such stand as the agent or object of a verb.

Some nouns are specifically used to designate certain objects, and
distinguish them from the class to which they usually belong. In this
way they assume a distinctive character, and are usually denominated
=proper nouns=. They apply to persons, places and things; as, John
Smith, Boston, Hylax. _Boy_ is applied in common to all young males of
the human species, and as such is a _common noun_ or name. _John Smith_
designates a particular boy from the rest.

Proper names may be also applied to animals and things. The stable
keeper and stageman has a name for every horse he owns, to distinguish
it from other horses; the dairyman for his cows, the boy for his dog,
and the girl for her doll. Any word, in fact, may become a proper name
by being specifically used; as the ship Fair Trader, the brig Success,
sloop Delight in Peace, the race horse Eclipse, Black Hawk, Round Nose,
and Red Jacket.

Proper names were formerly used in reference to certain traits of
character or circumstances connected with the place or thing. _Abram_
was changed to _Abraham_, the former signifying _an elevated father_,
the latter, _the father of a multitude_. _Isaac_ signified _laughter_,
and was given because his mother laughed at the message of the angel.
_Jacob_ signified _a supplanter_, because he was to obtain the
birthright of his elder brother.

A ridiculous rage obtained with our puritan fathers to express scripture
sentiments in the names of their children, as may be seen by consulting
the records of the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies.

This practice has not wholly gone out of use in our day, for we hear of
the names of Hope, Mercy, Patience, Comfort, Experience, Temperance,
Faith, Deliverance, Return, and such like, applied usually to females,
(being more in character probably,) and sometimes to males. We have also
the names of White, Black, Green, Red, Gray, Brown, Olive, Whitefield,
Blackwood, Redfield, Woodhouse, Stonehouse, Waterhouse, Woodbridge,
Swiftwater, Lowater, Drinkwater, Spring, Brooks, Rivers, Pond, Lake,
Fairweather, Merryweather, Weatherhead, Rice, Wheat, Straw, Greatrakes,
Bird, Fowle, Crow, Hawks, Eagle, Partridge, Wren, Goslings, Fox, Camel,
Zebra, Bear, Wolf, Hogg, Rain, Snow, Haile, Frost, Fogg, Mudd, Clay,
Sands, Hills, Valley, Field, Stone, Flint, Silver, Gould, and Diamond.

Proper nouns may also become common when used as words of general
import; as, _dunces_, corrupted from Duns Scotus, a distinguished
theologian, born at Dunstane, Northumberland, an opposer of the
doctrines of Thomas Aquinus. He is a real _solomon_, jack tars, judases,
antichrist, and so on.

Nouns may also be considered in respect to person, number, gender, and
positive, or case. There are _three_ persons, _two_ numbers, _two_
genders, and _two_ cases. But the further consideration of these things
will be deferred, which, together with Pronouns, will form the subject
of our next lecture.



    Nouns in respect to persons.--Number.--Singular.--Plural.--How
    formed.--Foreign plurals.--Proper names admit of plurals.--Gender.
    --No neuter.--In figurative language.--Errors.--Position or case.--
    Agents.--Objects.--Possessive case considered.--A definitive
    word.--Pronouns.--One kind.--Originally nouns.--Specifically

We resume the consideration of nouns this evening, in relation to
person, number, gender, and position or case.

In the use of language there is a speaker, person spoken to, and things
spoken of. Those who speak are the _first_ persons, those who hear the
_second_, and those who are the subject of conversation the _third_.

The first and second persons are generally used in reference to human
beings capable of speech and understanding. But we sometimes condesend
to hold converse with animals and inanimate matter. The bird trainer
talks to his parrots, the coachman to his horses, the sailor to the
winds, and the poet to his landscapes, towers, and wild imaginings, to
which he gives a "local habitation and a name."

By metaphor, language is put into the mouths of animals, particularly in
fables. By a still further license, places and things, flowers, trees,
forests, brooks, lakes, mountains, towers, castles, stars, &c. are made
to speak the most eloquent language, in the first person, in addresses
the most pathetic. The propriety of such a use of words I will not stop
to question, but simply remark that such figures should never be
employed in the instruction of children. As the mind expands, no longer
content to grovel amidst mundane things, we mount the pegasus of
imagination and soar thro the blissful or terrific scenes of fancy and
fiction, and study a language before unknown. But it would be an
unrighteous demand upon others, to require them to understand us; and
quite as unpardonable to brand them with ignorance because they do not.

Most nouns are in the third person. More things are talked about than
talk themselves, or are talked to by others. Hence there is little
necessity for teaching children to specify except in the first or second
person, which is very easily done.

In English there are two _numbers_, singular and plural. The singular is
confined to one, the plural is extended to any indefinite number. The
Greeks, adopted a dual number which they used to express two objects
united in pairs, or couples; as, a span of horses, a yoke of oxen, a
brace of pistols, a pair of shoes. We express the same idea with more
words, using the singular to represent the union of the two. We also
extend this use of words and employ what are called _nouns of
multitude_; as, a people, an army, a host, a nation. These and similar
words are used in the singular referring to many combined in a united
whole, or in the plural comprehending a diversity; as, "the armies met,"
"the nations are at peace." _People_ admits no change on account of
number. We say "_many_ people are collected together and form _a_
numerous people."

The plural is not always to be understood as expressing an increase of
number, but of qualities or sorts of things, as the merchant has a
variety of _sugars_, _wines_, _teas_, _drugs_, _medicines_, _paints_ and
_dye-woods_. We also speak of _hopes_, _fears_, _loves_, _anxieties_.

Some nouns admit of no plural, in fact, or in use; as, chaos, universe,
fitness, immortality, immensity, eternity. Others admit of no singular;
as, scissors, tongs, vitals, molasses. These words probably once had
singulars, but having no use for them they became obsolete. We have long
been accustomed to associate the two halves of shears together, so that
in speaking of one whole, we say shears, and of apart, half of a shears.
But of some words originally, and in fact plural, we have formed a
singular; as, "one twin died, and, tho the other one survived its
dangerous illness, the mother wept bitterly for her twins." _Twin_ is
composed of _two_ and _one_. It is found in old books, spelled _twane_,
two-one, or twin. Thus, the _twi_-light is formed by the mingling of two
lights, or the division of the rays of light by the approaching or
receding darkness. They _twain_ shall be one flesh. Sheep and deer are
singular or plural.

Most plurals are formed by adding _s_ to the singular, or, when euphony
requires it, _es_; as, tree, trees; sun, suns; dish, dishes; box, boxes.
Some retain the old plural form; as, ox, oxen; child, children; chick,
chicken; kit, kitten. But habit has burst the barrier of old rules, and
we now talk of chicks and chickens, kits and kittens. _Oxen_ alone
stands as a monument raised to the memory of unaltered saxon plurals.

Some nouns form irregular plurals. Those ending in _f_ change that
letter to _v_ and then add _es_; as, half, halves; leaf, leaves; wolf,
wolves. Those ending in _y_ change that to _i_ and add the _es_; as,
cherry, cherries; berry, berries; except when the _y_ is preceded by a
vowel, in which case it only adds the _s_; as, day, days; money, moneys
(not _ies_); attorney, attorneys. All this is to make the sound more
easy and harmonious. _F_ and _v_ were formerly used indiscriminately, in
singulars as well as plurals, and, in fact, in the composition of all
words where they occurred. The same may be said of _i_ and _y_.

    "The Fader (Father) Almychty of the heven abuf (above)
    In the mene tyme, unto Juno his _luf_ (love)
    Thus spak; and sayd."
                              _Douglas, booke 12, pag. 441._

    "They lyued in ioye and in felycite
    For eche of hem had other lefe and dere."
                              _Chaucer, Monks Tale, fol. 81, p. 1._

    "When straite twane beefes he tooke
    And an the aultar layde."

The reason why _y_ is changed into _i_ in the formation of plurals, and
in certain other cases, is, I apprehend, accounted for from the fact
that words which now end in _y_ formerly ended in _ie_, as may be seen
in all old books. The regular plural was then formed by adding _s_.

"And upon those members of the _bodie_, which _wee_ thinke most
unhonest, put _wee_ more honestie on." "It rejoyceth not in
iniquitie--diversitie of gifts--all thinges edifie not." See old bible,
1 Cor., chap. 13 and 14.

Other words form their plurals still more differently, for which no
other rule than habit can be given; as, man, men; foot, feet; tooth,
teeth; die, dice; mouse, mice; penny, pence, and sometimes pennies, when
applied to distinct pieces of money, and not to value.

Many foreign nouns retain the plural form as used by the nations from
whom we have borrowed them; as, cherub, cherubim; seraph, seraphim;
radius, radii; memorandum, memoranda; datum, data, &c. We should be
pleased to have such words carried home, or, if they are ours by virtue
of possession, let them be adopted into our family, and put on the
garments of naturalized citizens, and no longer appear as lonely
strangers among us. There is great aukwardness in adding the english to
the hebrew plural of cherub, as the translators of the common version of
the bible have done. They use _cherub_ in the singular and cherub_ims_
in the plural. The _s_ should be omitted and the Hebrew plural retained,
or the preferable course adopted, and the final _s_ be added, making
cherubs, seraphs, &c. The same might be said of all foreign nouns. It
would add much to the regularity, dignity, and beauty, of our vernacular

Proper nouns admit of the plural number; as, there are sixty-four John
Smiths in New-York, twenty Arnolds in Providence, and fifteen Davises in
Boston. As we are not accustomed to form the plurals of proper names
there is not that ease and harmony in the first use of them that we have
found in those with which we are more familiar; especially those we have
rarely heard pronounced. Habit surmounts the greatest obstacles and
makes things the most harsh and unpleasant appear soft and agreeable.

Gender is applied to the distinction of the sexes. There are
two--masculine and feminine. The former is applied to males, the latter
to females. Those words which belong to neither gender, have been called
_neuter_, that is, _no gender_. But it is hardly necessary to perplex
the minds of learners with _negatives_. Let them distinguish between
masculine and feminine genders, and little need be said to them about a

There are some nouns of both genders, as student, writer, pupil,
person, citizen, resident. _Poet_, _author_, editor, and some other
words, have of late been applied to females, instead of poet_ess_,
author_ess_, edit_ress_. Fashion will soon preclude the necessity of
this former distinction.

Some languages determine their genders by the form of the endings of
their nouns, and what is thus made masculine in Rome, may be feminine in
France. It is owing, no doubt, to this practice, in other nations, that
we have attached the idea of gender to inanimate things; as, "the sun,
_he_ shines majestically;" while of the moon, it is said, "_she_ sheds a
milder radiance." But we can not coincide with the reason assigned by
Mr. Murray, for this distinction. His notion is not valid. It does not
correspond with facts. While in the south of Europe the sun is called
masculine and the moon feminine, the northern nations invariably reverse
the distinction, particularly the dialects of the Scandinavian. It was
so in our own language in the time of Shakspeare. He calls the sun a
"_fair wench_."

By figures of rhetoric, genders may be attached to inanimate matter.
Where things are personified, we usually speak of them as masculine and
feminine; but this practice depends on fancy, and not on any fixed
rules. There is, in truth, but two genders, and those confined to
animals. When we break these rules, and follow the undirected wanderings
of fancy, we can form no rules to regulate our words. We may have as
many fanciful ones as we please, but they will not apply in common
practice. For example: poets and artists have usually attached female
loveliness to angels, and placed them in the feminine gender. But they
are invariably used in the masculine thro out the scriptures.

There is an apparent absurdity in saying of the ship General Williams,
_she_ is beautiful; or, of the steamboat Benjamin Franklin, _she_ is out
of date. It were far better to use no gender in such cases. But if
people will continue the practice of making distinctions where there are
none, they must do it from habit and whim, and not from any reason or

There are three ways in which we usually distinguish the forms of words
in reference to gender. 1st. By words which are different; as boy, girl;
uncle, aunt; father, mother. 2d. By a different termination of the same
word; as instructor, instructress; lion, lioness; poet, poetess. _Ess_
is a contraction from the hebrew _essa_, a female. 3d. By prefixing
another word; as, a male child, a female child; a man servant, a maid
servant; a he-goat, a she-goat.

The last consideration that attaches to nouns, is the _position_ they
occupy in written or spoken language, in relation to other words, as
being _agents_, or _objects_ of action. This is termed _position_.

There are two positions in which nouns stand in reference to their
meaning and use. First, as _agents_ of action, as _David_ killed
Goliath. Second, as _objects_ on which action terminates; as, _Richard_
conquered _Henry_. These two distinctions should be observed in the use
of all nouns. But the propriety of this division will be more evident
when we come to treat of verbs, their agents and objects.

It will be perceived that we have abandoned the use of the "_possessive
case_," a distinction which has been insisted on in our grammars; and
also changed the names of the other two. As we would adopt nothing that
is new without first being convinced that something is needed which the
thing proposed will supply; so we would reject nothing that is old,
till we have found it useless and cumbersome. It will be admitted on all
hands that the fewer and simpler the rules of grammar, the more readily
will they be understood, and the more correctly applied. We should
guard, on the one hand, against having so many as to perplex, and on the
other, retain enough to apply in the correct use of language. It is on
this ground that we have proposed an improvement in the names and number
of cases, or positions.

The word noun signifies name, and _nominative_ is the adjective derived
from noun, and partakes of the same meaning. Hence the _nominative_ or
_naming_ case may apply as correctly to the object as the agent. "_John_
strikes _Thomas_, and _Thomas_ strikes _John_." John and Thomas name the
boys who strike, but in the first case John is the actor or agent and
Thomas the object. In the latter it is changed. To use a _nominative
name_ is a redundancy which should be avoided. You will understand my
meaning and see the propriety of the change proposed, as the mind of the
learner should not be burthened with needless or irrelevant phrases.

But our main objection lies against the "possessive case." We regard it
as a false and unnecessary distinction. What is the possessive case?
Murray defines it as "expressing the relation of property or possession;
as, my father's house." His rule of syntax is, "one substantive governs
another, signifying a different thing, in the possessive or genitive
case; as, my father's house." I desire you to understand the definition
and use as here given. Read it over again, and be careful that you know
the meaning of _property_, _possession_, and _government_. Now let a
scholar parse correctly the example given. "_Father's_" is a common
noun, third person, singular number, masculine gender, and _governed_ by
house:" Rule, "One noun _governs_ another," &c. Then my father does not
govern his own house, but his house him! What must be the conduct and
condition of the family, if they have usurped the government of their
head? "John Jones, hatter, keeps constantly for sale all kinds of _boy's
hats_. Parse boy's. It is a noun, possessive case, _governed_ by hats."
What is the possessive case? It "signifies the _relation of property or
possession_." Do the hats belong to the boys? Oh no. Are they the
_property_ or in the _possession_ of the boys? Certainly not. Then what
relation is there of property or possession? None at all. They belong to
John Jones, were made by him, are his property, and by him are
advertised for sale. He has used the word _boy's_ to distinguish their
size, quality, and fitness for boy's use.

"The master's slave." Master's is in the possessive case, and _governed_
by slave! If grammars are true there can be no need of abolition
societies, unless it is to look after the master and see that he is not
abused. The rider's horse; the captain's ship; the general's army; the
governor's cat; the king's subject. How false it would be to teach
scholars the idea of _property_ and _government_ in such cases. The
_teacher's scholars_ should never learn that by virtue of their
grammars, or the _apostrophe_ and letter _s_, they have a right to
_govern_ their teachers; nor the mother's son, to govern his mother. Our
merchants would dislike exceedingly to have the _ladies_ understand them
to signify by their advertisements that the "ladies' merino shawls, the
ladies's bonnets and lace wrought veils, the ladies' gloves and elegant
Thibet, silk and challa dresses, were the _property_ of the ladies; for
in that case they might claim or _possess_ themselves of their
_property_, and no longer trouble the merchant with the care of it.

"Peter's wife's mother lay sick of a fever." "_His_ physician said that
_his_ disease would require _his_ utmost skill to defeat _its_ progress
in _his_ limbs." Phrases like these are constantly occurring, which can
not be explained intelligibly by the existing grammars. In fact, the
words said to be nouns in the possessive case, have changed their
character, by use, from nouns to adjectives, or definitive words, and
should thus be classed. Russia iron, Holland gin, China ware, American
people, the Washington tavern, Lafayette house, Astor house, Hudson
river, (formerly Hudson's,) Baffin's bay, Van Dieman's land, John
street, Harper's ferry, Hill's bridge, a paper book, a bound book, a red
book, John's book--one which John is known to use, it may be a borrowed
one, but generally known as some way connected with him,--Rev. Mr.
Smith's church, St. John's church, Grace church, Murray's grammar; not
the property nor in the possession of Lindley Murray, neither does it
_govern him_; for he has gone to speak a purer language than he taught
on earth. It is mine. I bought it, have possessed it these ten years;
but, thank fortune, am little _governed_ by it. But more on this point
when we come to the proper place. What I have said, will serve as a
hint, which will enable you to see the impropriety of adopting the
"possessive case."

It may be said that more cases are employed in other languages. That is
a poor reason why we should break the barriers of natural language.
Beside, I know not how we should decide by that rule, for none of them
have a _case_ that will compare with the English possessive. The
genitive of the French, Latin, or Greek, will apply in only a few
respects. The former has _three_, the latter five, and the Latin six
cases, neither of which correspond with the possessive, as explained by
Murray and his satellites. We should be slow to adopt into our language
an idiom which does not belong to it, and compel learners to make
distinctions where none exist. It is an easy matter to tell children
that the apostrophe and letter _s_ marks the possessive case; but when
they ask the difference in the meaning between the use of the noun and
those which all admit are adjectives, it will be no indifferent task to
satisfy them. What is the difference in the construction of language or
the sense conveyed, between Hudson'_s_ river, and _Hudson_ river?
Davis's straits, or Bass straits? St. John's church, or Episcopal
church? the sun's beams, or sun shine? In all cases these words are used
to define the succeeding noun. They regard "property or possession,"
only when attending circumstances, altogether foreign from any quality
in the form or meaning of the word itself, are so combined as to give it
that import. And in such cases, we retain these words as adjectives,
long after the property has passed from the hands of the persons who
gave it a name. _Field's_ point, _Fuller's_ rocks, _Fisher's_ island,
_Fulton's_ invention, will long be retained after those whose names were
given to distinguish these things, have slept with their fathers and
been forgotten. Blannerhassett's Island, long since ceased to be his
property or tranquil possession, by confiscation; but it will retain its
specific name, till the inundations of the Ohio's waters shall have
washed it away and left not a wreck behind.

The distinctions I have made in the positions of nouns, will be clearly
understood when we come to the verbs. A few remarks upon pronouns will
close the present lecture.


Pronouns are such as the word indicates. _Pro_ is the latin word _for_;
pro-nomen, _for nouns_. They are words, originally nouns, used
specifically _for_ other nouns, to avoid the too frequent repetition of
the same words; as, Washington was the father of his country; _he_ was a
valiant officer. _We_ ought to respect _him_. The word _we_, stands for
the speaker and all present, and saves the trouble of naming them; _he_
and _him_, stand for Washington, to avoid the monotony which would be
produced by a recurrence of his name.

Pronouns are all of one kind, and few in number. I will give you a list
of them in their respective positions.

                        _Agents._      _Objects._
            { 1st person,  I,             me,
            { 2d    "      thou,          thee,
_Singular_  { 3d    "  mas. { he,         him,
            {       "  fem. { she,        her,
            {              it,            it.

            { 1st person,  we,            us,
 _Plural_   { 2d    "      ye, or you,    you,
            { 3d    "      they,          them,
                           who,           whom.

The two last may be used in either person, number, or gender.

The frequent use of these words render them very important, in the
elegant and rapid use of language. They are so short, and their sound so
soft and easy, that the frequency of their recurrence does not mar the
beauty of a sentence, but saves us from the redundancy of other words.
They are substituted only when there is little danger of mistaking the
nouns for which they stand. They are, however, sometimes used in a very
broad sense; as, "_they say_ it is so;" meaning no particular persons,
but the general sentiment. _It_ frequently takes the lead of a sentence,
and the thing represented by it comes after; as, "It is currently
reported, that things were thus and so." Here _it_ represents the single
idea which is afterward stated at length. "_It_ is so." "_It_ may be
that the nations will be destroyed by wars, earthquakes, and famines."
But more of this when we come to speak of the composition of sentences.

The words now classed as pronouns were originally _names_ of things, but
in this character they have long been obsolete. They are now used only
in their secondary character as the representatives of other words. The
word _he_, for instance, signified originally _to breathe_. It was
applied to the living beings who inhaled air. It occurs with little
change in the various languages of Europe, ancient and modern, till at
length it is applied to the male agent which lives and acts. The word
_her_ means _light_, but is specifically applied to females which are
the objects of action.

Was it in accordance with the design of these lectures, it would give me
pleasure to go into a minute examination of the origin, changes and
meaning of these words till they came to be applied as specific words of
exceeding limited character. Most of them might be traced thro all the
languages of Europe; the Arabic, Persic, Arminian, Chaldean, Hebrew,
and, for ought I know, all the languages of Asia. But as they are now
admitted a peculiar position in the expression of thought from which
they never vary; and as we are contending about philosophic principles
rather than verbal criticisms, I shall forbear a further consideration
of these words.

In the proper place I shall consider those words formerly called
"Adjective Pronouns," "Pronoun Adjectives," or "Pronominal Adjectives,"
to suit the varying whims of those grammar makers, who desired to show
off a speck of improvement in their "simplifying" works without ever
having a new idea to express. It is a query in some minds whether the
seventy-two "simplifiers" and "improvers" of Murray's grammar ever had
any distinct notions in their heads which they did not obtain from the
very man, who, it would seem by their conduct, was unable to explain his
own meaning.



    Definition of adjectives.--General character.--Derivation.--How
    understood.--Defining and describing.--Meaning changes to suit the
    noun.--Too numerous.--Derived from nouns.--Nouns and verbs made from
    adjectives.--Foreign adjectives.--A general list.--Difficult to be
    understood.--An example.--Often superfluous.--Derived from
    verbs.--Participles.--Some prepositions.--Meaning unknown.--With.--

The most important sub-division of words is the class called Adjectives,
which we propose to notice this evening. _Adjective_ signifies _added_
or _joined to_. We employ the term in grammar to designate that class of
words which are _added to nouns to define or describe them_. In doing
this, we strictly adhere to the principles we have already advanced, and
do not deviate from the laws of nature, as developed in the regulation
of speech.

In speaking of things, we had occasion to observe that the mind not only
conceived ideas of things, but of their properties; as, the hardness of
flint; the heat of fire; and that we spoke of one thing in reference to
another. We come now to consider this subject more at large.

In the use of language the mind first rests on the thing which is
present before it, or the word which represents the idea of that thing.
Next it observes the changes and attitudes of these things. Thirdly, it
conceives ideas of their qualities and relations to other things. The
first use of these words is to name things. This we call _nouns_. The
second is to express their actions. This we call _verbs_. The last is to
define or describe things. This we call _adjectives_. There is a great
similarity between the words used to name things and to express their
actions; as, builders build buildings; singers sing songs; writers write
writings; painters paint paintings. In the popular use of language we
vary these words to avoid the monotony and give pleasantness and
variety. We say builders _erect_ houses, barns, and other buildings;
singers perform pieces of music; musicians play tunes; the choir sing
psalm tunes; artists paint pictures.

From these two classes a third is derived which partakes somewhat of the
nature of both, and yet from its secondary use, it has obtained a
distinctive character, and as such is allowed a separate position among
the classes of words.

It might perhaps appear more in order to pass the consideration of
adjectives till we have noticed the character and use of verbs, from
which an important portion of them is derived. But as they are used in
connexion with nouns, and as the character they borrow from the verb
will be readily understood, I have preferred to retain the old
arrangement, and consider them in this place.

_Adjectives are words added to nouns to define or describe them._ They
are derived either, 1st, from nouns; as, _window_ glass, _glass_ window,
a stone house, building stone, maple sugar, sugar cane; or, 2d, from
verbs; as, a _written_ paper, a _printed_ book, a _painted_ house, a
_writing_ desk. In the first case we employ one noun, or the name of one
thing, to define another, thus giving it a secondary use. A _glass_
window is one made of glass, and not of any thing else. It is neither a
_board_ window, nor a _paper_ window. _Maple_ sugar is not _cane_
sugar, nor _beet_ sugar, nor _molasses_ sugar; but it may be _brown_
sugar, if it has been browned, or _white_ if it has been whit_ed_ or
whit_ened_. In this case, you at once perceive the correctness of our
second proposition, in the derivation of adjectives from verbs, by which
we describe a thing in reference to its condition, in some way affected
by the operation of a prior action. A _printed_ book is one on which the
action of printing has been performed. A _written_ book differs from the
former, in as much as its appearance was produced by writing and not by

In the definition or description of things, whatever is best understood
is employed as a definitive or descriptive term, and is attached to the
object to make known its properties and relations. Speaking of nations,
if we desire to distinguish some from others, we choose the words
supposed to be best known, and talk of European, African, American, or
Indian nations; northern, southern, eastern, or western nations. These
last words are used in reference to their relative position, and may be
variously understood; for we speak of the northern, eastern, western,
and southern nations of Europe, of Africa, and the world.

Again, we read of civiliz_ed_, half-civilized, and barbarous nations;
learned, unlearned, ignorant, and enlightened; rich, powerful,
enterprising, respected, ancient or modern, christian, mahomedan or
pagan. In these, and a thousand similar cases, we decide the meaning,
not alone from the word employed as an adjective, but from the subject
of remark; for, were we to attach the same meaning to the same word,
wherever used, we could not receive correct or definite impressions from
the language of others--our inferences would be the most monstrous. A
_great_ mountain and a _great_ pin, a _great_ continent and a _great_
farm, a _great_ ocean and a _great_ pond, a _great_ grammar and a
_great_ scholar, refer to things of very different dimensions and
character; or, as Mr. Murray would say, "_qualities_." A mountain is
great by comparison with other mountains; and a pin, compared with other
pins, may be very large--exceeding great--and yet fall very far short of
the size of a very small mountain. A _small_ man may be a _great_
scholar, and a rich neighbor a poor friend. A sweet flower is often very
bitter to the taste. A _good_ horse would make a _bad_ dinner, but
_false_ grammar can never make _true_ philologists.

All words are to be understood according to their use. Their meaning can
be determined in no other way. Many words change their forms to express
their relations, but fewer in our language than in most others, ancient
or modern. Other words remain the same, or nearly so, in every position;
noun, adjective, or verb, agent or object, past or present. To determine
whether a word is an adjective, first ascertain whether it names a
thing, defines or describes it, or expresses its action, and you will
never be at a loss to know to what class it belongs.

The business of adjectives is twofold, and they may be distinguished by
the appellations of _defining_ or _describing_ adjectives. This
distinction is in many cases unimportant; in others it is quite
essential. The same word in one case may _define_, in others _describe_
the object, and occasionally do both, for we often specify things by
their descriptions. The learner has only to ascertain the meaning and
use of the adjective to decide whether it defines or describes the
subject of remark. If it is employed to distinguish one thing from the
general mass, or one class from other classes, it has the former
character; but after such thing is pointed out, if it is used to give a
description of its character or properties, its character is different,
and should be so understood and explained.

_Defining adjectives_ are used to _point out_, specify or distinguish
certain things from others of their kind, or one sort from other sorts,
and answer to the questions _which_, _what_, _how many_, or _how much_.

_Describing adjectives_ express the character and qualities of things,
and give a more full and distinct knowledge than was before possessed.

In a case before mentioned, we spoke of the "Indian nations." The word
_Indian_ was chosen to specify or define what nations were alluded to.
But all may not decide alike in this case. Some may think we meant the
aborigines of America; others, that the southern nations of Asia were
referred to. This difficulty originates in a misapprehension of the
definitive word chosen. India was early known as the name of the south
part of Asia, and the people there, were called Indians. When Columbus
discovered the new world, supposing he had reached the country of India,
which had long been sought by a voyage round the coast of Africa, he
named it India, and the people Indians. But when the mistake was
discovered, and the truth fully known, instead of effecting a change in
the name already very generally understood, and in common use, another
word was chosen to distinguish between countries so opposite and _West_
India became the word to distinguish the newly discovered islands; and
as India was little better known in Europe at that time, instead of
retaining their old name unaltered, another word was prefixed, and they
called it _East_ India. When, therefore, we desire to be definite, we
retain these words, and say, East Indians and West Indians. Without this
distinction, we should understand the native people of our own country;
but in Europe, Asia, and Africa, they would think we alluded to those in
Asia. So with all other adjectives which are not understood. _Indian_,
as an adjective, may also be employed to _describe_ the character and
condition of the aborigines. We talk of an indian temper, indian looks,
indian blankets, furs, &c.

In writing and conversation we should employ words to explain, to define
and describe, which are better understood than those things of which we
speak. The pedantry of some modern writers in this respect is
ridiculous. Not satisfied to use plain terms which every body can
understand, they hunt the dictionaries from alpha to omega, and not
unfrequently overleap the "king's english," and ransack other languages
to find an unheard of word, or a list of adjectives never before
arranged together, in so nice a manner, so that their ideas are lost to
the common reader, if not to themselves. This fault may be alleged
against too many of our public speakers, as well as the affected gentry
of the land. They are like Shakspeare's Gratiano, "who speaks an
infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice; his reasons
are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek
all day ere you find them; and, when you have found them, they are not
worth the search." Such sentences remind us of the painting of the young
artist who drew the form of an animal, but apprehensive that some might
mistake it, wrote under it, "_This is a horse._"

In forming our notions of what is signified by an adjective, the mind
should pause to determine the meaning of such word when used as a
distinct name for some object, in order to determine the import of it in
this new capacity. A _tallow_ candle is one made of a substance called
tallow, and is employed to distinguish it from wax or spermaceti
candles. The adjective in this case, names the article of which the
candle is made, and is thus a noun, but, as we are not speaking of
tallow, but of candles, we place it in a new relation, and give it a new
grammatical character. But you will perceive the correctness of a former
assertion, that all words may be reduced to two classes, and that
adjectives are derived from nouns or verbs.

But you may inquire if there are not some adjectives in use which have
no corresponding verb or noun from which they are derived. There are
many words in our language which in certain uses have become obsolete,
but are retained in others. We now use some words as verbs which
originally were known only as nouns, and others as nouns which are
unknown as verbs. We also put a new construction upon words and make
nouns, verbs and adjectives promiscuously and with little regard to rule
or propriety. Words at one time unknown become familiar by use, and
others are laid aside for those more new or fashionable. These facts are
so obvious that I shall be excused from extending my remarks to any
great length. But I will give an example which will serve as a clew to
the whole. Take the word _happy_, long known only as an adjective.
Instead of following this word _back_ to its primitive use and deriving
it directly from its noun, or as a past participle, such as it is in
truth, we have gone _forward_ and made from it the noun _happiness_,
and, in more modern days, are using the verb _happify_, a word, by the
way, in common use, but which has not yet been honored with a place in
our dictionaries; altho Mr. Webster has given us, as he says, the
_unauthorised_ (un-author-ised) word "_happifying_." Perhaps he had
never heard or read some of our greatest savans, who, if not the
authors, employ the word _happify_ very frequently in the pulpit and
halls of legislation, and at the bar, as well as in common parlance.

_Happy_ is the past participle of the verb _to hap_, or, as afterwards
used, with a nice shade of change in the meaning, _to happen_. It means
_happied_, or made happy by those favorable circumstances which have
_happened_ to us. Whoever will read our old writers no further back than
Shakspeare, will at once see the use and changes of this word. They will
find it in all its forms, simple and compound, as a verb, noun, and
adjective. "It may _hap_ that he will come." It happened as I was going
that I found my lost child, and was thereby made quite happy. The man
desired to _hap_pify himself and family without much labor, so he
engaged in speculation; and _hap_pily he was not so _hap_less in his
pursuit of _hap_piness as often _hap_pens to such _hap_-hazard fellows,
for he soon became very _hap_py with a moderate fortune.

But to the question. There are many adjectives in our language which are
borrowed from foreign words. Instead of _adjectiving_ our own nouns we
go to our neighbors and _adjective_ and anglicise [english-ise] their
words, and adopt the pampered urchins into our own family and call them
our favorites. It is no wonder that they often appear aukward and
unfamiliar, and that our children are slow in forming an intimate
acquaintance with them. You are here favored with a short list of these
words which will serve as examples, and enable you to comprehend my
meaning and apply it in future use. Some of them are regularly used as
adjectives, with or without change; others are not.


    Alone            Sole, solitary
    Alms             Eleemosynary
    Age              Primeval
    Belief           Credulous
    Blame            Culpable
    Breast           Pectoral
    Being            Essential
    Bosom            Graminal, sinuous
    Boy, boyish      Puerile
    Blood, bloody    Sanguinary, sanguine
    Burden           Onerous
    Beginning        Initial
    Boundary         Conterminous
    Brother          Fraternal
    Bowels           Visceral
    Body             Corporeal
    Birth            Natal, native
    Calf             Vituline
    Carcass          Cadaverous
    Cat              Feline
    Cow              Vaccine
    Country          Rural, rustic
    Church           Ecclesiastical
    Death            Mortal
    Dog              Canine
    Day              Diurnal, meridian, ephemeral
    Disease          Morbid
    East             Oriental
    Egg              Oval
    Ear              Auricular
    Eye              Ocular
    Flesh            Carnal, carnivorous
    Father           Paternal
    Field            Agrarian
    Flock            Gregarious
    Foe              Hostile
    Fear             Timorous, timid
    Finger           Digital
    Flattery         Adulatory
    Fire             Igneous
    Faith            Fiducial
    Foot             Pedal
    Groin            Inguinal
    Guardian         Tutelar
    Glass            Vitreous
    Grape            Uveous
    Grief            Dolorous
    Gain             Lucrative
    Help             Auxiliary
    Heart            Cordial, cardiac
    Hire             Stipendiary
    Hurt             Noxious
    Hatred           Odious
    Health           Salutary, salubrious
    Head             Capital, chief
    Ice              Glacial
    Island           Insular
    King             Regal, royal
    Kitchen          Culinary
    Life             Vital, vivid, vivarious
    Lungs            Pulmonary
    Lip              Labial
    Leg              Crural, isosceles
    Light            Lucid, luminous
    Love             Amorous
    Lust             Libidinous
    Law              Legal, loyal
    Mother           Maternal
    Money            Pecuniary
    Mixture          Promiscuous, miscellaneous
    Moon             Lunar, sublunary
    Mouth            Oral
    Marrow           Medulary
    Mind             Mental
    Man              Virile, male, human, masculine
    Milk             Lacteal
    Meal             Ferinaceous
    Nose             Nasal
    Navel            Umbilical
    Night            Nocturnal, equinoctial
    Noise            Obstreperous
    One              First
    Parish           Parochial
    People           Popular, populous, public, epidemical, endemical
    Point            Punctual
    Pride            Superb, haughty
    Plenty           Copious
    Pitch            Bituminous
    Priest           Sacerdotal
    Rival            Emulous
    Root             Radical
    Ring             Annular
    Reason           Rational
    Revenge          Vindictive
    Rule             Regular
    Speech           Loquacious, garrulous, eloquent
    Smell            Olfactory
    Sight            Visual, optic, perspicuous, conspicuous
    Side             Lateral, collateral
    Skin             Cutaneous
    Spittle          Salivial
    Shoulder         Humeral
    Shepherd         Pastoral
    Sea              Marine, maritime
    Share            Literal
    Sun              Solar
    Star             Astral, sideral, stellar
    Sunday           Dominical
    Spring           Vernal
    Summer           Estival
    Seed             Seminal
    Ship             Naval, nautical
    Shell            Testaceous
    Sleep            Soporiferous
    Strength         Robust
    Sweat            Sudorific
    Step             Gradual
    Sole             Venal
    Two              Second
    Treaty           Federal
    Trifle           Nugatory
    Tax              Fiscal
    Time             Temporal, chronical
    Town             Oppidan
    Thanks           Gratuitous
    Theft            Furtive
    Threat           Minatory
    Treachery        Insidious
    Thing            Real
    Throat           Jugular, gutteral
    Taste            Insipid
    Thought          Pensive
    Thigh            Femoral
    Tooth            Dental
    Tear             Lachrymal
    Vessel           Vascular
    World            Mundane
    Wood             Sylvan, savage
    Way              Devious, obvious, impervious, trivial
    Worm             Vermicular
    Whale            Cutaceous
    Wife             Uxorious
    Word             Verbal, verbose
    Weak             Hebdomadal
    Wall             Mural
    Will             Voluntary, spontaneous
    Winter           Brumal
    Wound            Vulnerary
    West             Occidental
    War              Martial
    Women            Feminine, female, effeminate
    Year             Annual, anniversary, perennial, triennial

Such are some of the adjectives introduced into our language from other
nations. The list will enable you to discover that when we have no
adjective of our own to correspond with the noun, we borrow from our
neighbors an adjective derived from one of their nouns, to which we give
an english termination. For example:

    _English Noun._    _Latin Noun._        _Adjective._

    Boy                Puer                 Puerile
    Grief              Dolor                Dolorous
    Thought            Pensa                Pensive
    Wife               Uxor                 Uxorious
    Word               Verbum               Verbal, verbose
    Year               Annum                Annual
    Body               Corpus               Corporeal
    Head               Caput                Capital
    Church             Ekklesia (_Greek_)   Ecclesiastical
    King               Roi (_French_)       Royal
    Law                Loi     "            Loyal

It is exceedingly difficult to understand the adjectives of many nouns
with which we are familiar, from the fact above stated, that they are
derived from other languages, and not our own. The most thoro scholars
have found this task no easy affair. Most grammarians have let it pass
unobserved; but every person has seen the necessity of some explanation
upon this point, to afford a means of ascertaining the etymological
derivation and meaning of these words. I would here enter farther into
this subject, but I am reminded that I am surpassing the limits set me
for this course of lectures.

The attention I have bestowed on this part of the present subject, will
not be construed into a mere verbal criticism. It has been adopted to
show you how, in the definition or description of things, the mind
clings to one thing to gain some information concerning another. When we
find a thing unlike any thing else we have ever known, in form, in size,
in color, in every thing; we should find it a difficult task, if not an
impossibility, to describe it to another in a way to give any correct
idea of it. Having never seen its like before, we can say little of its
character. We may give it a _name_, but that would not be understood. We
could say it was as large as--no, it had no size; that it was like--but
no, it had no likeness; that it resembled--no, it had no resemblance.
How could we describe it? What could we say of it? Nothing at all.

What idea could the Pacha of Egypt form of ice, having never seen any
till the french chemists succeeded in freezing water in his presence?
They told him of ice; that it was _cold_; that it would freeze; that
whole streams were often frozen over, so that men and teams could walk
over them. He believed no such thing--it was a "christian lie." This
idea was confirmed on the first trial of the chemists, which failed of
success. But when, on the second attempt, they succeeded, he was all in
raptures. A new field was open before him. New ideas were produced in
his mind. New qualities were learned; and he could now form some idea of
the _ice_ bergs of the north; of _frozen_ regions, which he had never
seen; of _icy_ hearts, and storms of _frozen_ rain.

We often hear it said, such a man is very _stoical_; another is an
_epicurean_; and another is a _bacchanal_, or _bacchanalian_. But what
idea should we form of such persons, if we had never read of the Stoics
and their philosophy; of Epicurus and his notions of happiness and
duty; or of Bacchus, the god of wine and revelry, whose annual feasts,
or Dionysia, were celebrated with the most extravagant licentiousness
thro out Greece and Rome, till put down by the Senate of the latter.

You can not fail to see the importance of the knowledge on which we here
insist. The meaning you attach to words is exceedingly diverse; and
hence you are not always able to think alike, or understand each other,
nor derive the same sentiment from the same language. The contradictory
opinions which exist in the world may be accounted for, in a great
measure, in this way. Our knowledge of many things of which we speak, is
limited, either from lack of means, or disposition to employ them.
People always differ and contend most about things of which they know
the least. Did we all attach the same meaning to the same words, our
opinions would all be the same, as true as the forty-fifth problem of
Euclid. How important, then, that children should always be taught the
same meaning of words, and learn to use them correctly. Etymology,
viewed in this light, is a most important branch of science.

Whenever a word is sufficiently understood, no adjective should be
connected with it. There is a ridiculous practice among many people, of
appending to every noun one or more adjectives, which have no other
effect than to expose their own folly. Some writers are so in the habit
of annexing adjectives to all nouns, that they dare not use one without.
You will not unfrequently see adjectives different in form, added to a
noun of very similar meaning; as, sad melancholy, an ominous sign, this
mundane earth, pensive thoughts.

When words can be obtained, which not only name the object, but also
describe its properties, it should be preferred to a noun with an
adjective; as _pirate_, for _sea robber_; _savan_, for a _learned_ or
_wise man_.[4]

In relation to that class of adjectives derived from verbs, we will be
brief. They include what have been termed participles, not a distinct
"part of speech," but by some included in the verbs. We use them as
adjectives to describe things as standing in some relation to other
things on the account of the action expressed by the verb from which
they are derived. "The man is respected." _Respected_, in this case,
describes the man in such a relation to those who have become acquainted
with his good qualities, that he now receives their respect. He is
respect_able_, (_able_ to command, or worthy of respect,) and of course,
respected for his respectability. To avoid repetition, we select
different words to assist in the expression of a complex idea. But I
indulge in phrases like the above, to show the nice shades of meaning in
the common use of words, endeavoring to analyze, as far as possible, our
words and thoughts, and show their mutual connexion and dependencies.

What has been termed the "present participle" is also an adjective,
describing things in their present condition in reference to actions.
"The man is writing." Here, _writing_ describes the man in his present
employment. But the consideration of this matter more properly belongs
to the construction of sentences.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is another class or variety of words properly belonging to this
division of grammar, which may as well be noticed in this place as any
other. I allude to those words generally called "Prepositions." We have
not time now to consider them at large, but will give you a brief view
of our opinion of them, and reserve the remainder of our remarks till we
come to another part of these lectures.

Most of the words called prepositions, in books of grammar, are
participles, derived from verbs, many of which are still in use, but
some are obsolete. They are used in the true character of adjectives,
_describing one thing by its relation to another_. But their meaning has
not been generally understood. Our dictionaries have afforded no means
by which we can trace their etymology. They have been regarded as a kind
of cement to stick other words together, having no meaning or importance
in themselves.[5] Until their meaning is known, we can not reasonably
expect to draw them from their hiding places, and give them a
respectable standing in the transmission of thought.

Many words, from the frequency of their use, fail to attract our
attention as much as those less employed; not because they are less
important, but because they are so familiarly known that the operations
of thought are not observed in the choice made of them to express ideas.
If we use words of which little is known, we ponder well before we adopt
them, to determine whether the sense usually attached to them accords
exactly with the notions we desire to convey by them. The same can not
be said of small words which make up a large proportion of our language,
and are, in fact, more necessary than the others, in as much as their
meaning is more generally known. Those who employ carriages to convey
their bodies, observe little of their construction, unless there is
something singular or fine in their appearance. The common parts are
unobserved, yet as important as the small words used in the common
construction of language, the vehicle of thought. As the apostle says of
the body politic, "those members of the body, which seem to be more
feeble, are necessary;" so the words least understood by grammarians are
most necessary in the correct formation of language.

It is an easy matter to get along with the words called prepositions,
after they are all learned by rote; but when their meaning and use are
inquired into, the best grammarians have little to say of them.

A list of prepositions, alphabetically arranged, is found in nearly
every grammar, which scholars are required to commit to memory, without
knowing any thing of their meaning or use, only that they are
prepositions when an objective word comes after them, _because the books
say so_; but occasionally the same words occur as adverbs and
adjectives. There is, however, no trouble in "parsing" them, unless the
list is forgotten. In that case, you will see the pupil, instead of
inquiring after the meaning and duty of the word, go to the book and
search for it in the lists of prepositions or conjunctions; or to the
dictionary, to see if there is a "_prep._" appended to it. What will
children ever learn of language in this way? Of what avail is all such
grammar teaching? As soon as they leave school it is all forgotten; and
you will hear them say, at the very time they should be reaping the
harvest of former toil, that they once understood grammar, but it is all
gone from them. Poor souls! their memory is very treacherous, else they
have never learned language as they ought. There is a fault somewhere.
To us it is not difficult to determine where it is.

That certain words are prepositions, there can be no doubt, because the
books say they are; but _why_ they are so, is quite another matter. All
we desire is to have their meaning understood. Little difficulty will
then be found in determining their use.

I have said they are derived from verbs, many of which are obsolete.
Some are still in use, both as verbs and nouns. Take for example the
word =with=. This word signifies _joined_ or _united_. It is used to
show that two things are some how joined together so that they are spoke
of in connexion. It frequently occurs in common conversation, as a verb
and noun, but not as frequently in the books as formerly. The farmer
says to his _hired_ man, "Go and get a _withe_ and come and _withe_ up
the fence;" that is, get some pliant twigs of tough wood, twist them
together, and _withe_ or bind them round these posts, so that one may
stand firm _with_, or _withed_ to, the other. A book _with_ a cover, is
one that has a cover _joined_, bound, or attached to it. "A father
_with_ a son, a man _with_ an estate, a nation _with_ a constitution."
In all such cases _with_ expresses the relation between the two things
mentioned, produced by a _union_ or connexion with each other.[6]

=In= is used in the same way. It is still retained as a noun and is
suspended on the signs of many public houses. "The traveller's _inn_,"
is a house where travellers _in_ themselves, or go _in_, for
entertainment. It occurs frequently in Shakspeare and in more modern
writers, as a verb, and is still used in common conversation as an
imperative. "Go, _in_ the crops of grain." "_In_ with you." "_In_ with
it." In describes one thing by its relation to another, which is the
business of adjectives. It admits of the regular degrees of comparison;
as, _in_, _inner_, _innermost_ or _inmost_. It also has its compounds.
_In_step, the _inner_ part of the foot, _in_let, _in_vestment,
_in_heritance. In this capacity it is extensively used under its
different shades of meaning which I cannot stop to notice.

=Of= signifies _divided_, _separated_, or _parted_. "The ship is _off_
the coast." "I am bound _off_, and you are bound _out_." "A part _of_ a
pencil," is that part which is _separated_ from the rest, implying that
the act of _separating_, or _offing_, has taken place. "A branch _of_
the tree." There is the tree; this branch is from it. "Our communication
was broken _off_ several years ago." "Sailors record their _off_ings,
and parents love their _off_spring," or those children which sprung
from them.[7] "We also _are his offspring_;" that is, sprung from
God.[8] In all these, and every other case, you will perceive the
meaning of the word, and its office will soon appear essential in the
expression of thought. Had all the world been a compact whole, nothing
ever separated from it, we could never speak of a part _of_ it, for we
could never have such an idea. But we look at things, as separated,
divided, parted; and speak of one thing as separated from the others.
Hence, when we speak of the part of the earth we inhabit, we, in
imagination, separate it from some other _part_, or the general whole.
We can not use this word in reference to a thing which is indivisible,
because we can conceive no idea of a part _of_ an indivisible thing. We
do not say, a portion _of_ our mind taken as a whole, but as capable of
division. A share _of_ our regards, supposes that the remainder is
reserved for something else.

=Out=, out_er_ or utter, outer_most_ or utmost, admits of the same
remark as _in_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this manner, we might explain a long list of words, called adverbs,
conjunctions, and prepositions. But I forbear, for the present, the
further consideration of this subject, and leave it for another lecture.



    Adjectives.--How formed.--The syllable _ly_.--Formed from proper
    nouns.--The apostrophe and letter _s_.--Derived from pronouns.--
    Articles.--_A_ comes from _an_.--_In_definite.--_The_.--Meaning of
    _a_ and _the_.--Murray's example.--That.--What.--"Pronoun
    adjectives."--_Mon_, _ma_.--Degrees of comparison.--Secondary
    adjectives.--Prepositions admit of comparison.

We resume the consideration of Adjectives. The importance of this class
of words in the expression of our thoughts, is my excuse for bestowing
upon it so much labor. Had words always been used according to their
primitive meaning, there would be little danger of being misunderstood.
But the fact long known, "_Verba mutanter_"--words change--has been the
prolific source of much of the diversity of opinion, asperity of
feeling, and apparent misconstruction of other's sentiments, which has
disturbed society, and disgraced mankind. I have, in a former lecture,
alluded to this point, and call it up in this place to prepare your
minds to understand what is to be said on the secondary use of words in
the character of adjectives.

I have already spoken of adjectives in general, as derived from nouns
and verbs, and was somewhat particular upon the class sometimes called
_prepositions_, which describe one thing by its relation to another,
produced by some action which has placed them in such relation. We will
now pass to examine a little more minutely into the character and use
of certain adjectives, and the manner of their derivation.

We commence with those derived from nouns, both common and proper, which
are somewhat peculiar in their character. I wish you distinctly to bear
in mind the use of adjectives. They are words _added to nouns to define
or describe them_.

Many words which name things, are used as adjectives, with out change;
as, _ox_ beef, _beef_ cattle, _paper_ books, _straw_ hats, _bonnet_
paper. Others admit of change, or addition; as, nation_al_ character, a
merci_ful_ (mercy-_ful_) man, a gloom_y_ prospect, a fam_ous_ horse, a
gold_en_ ball. The syllables which are added, are parts of words, which
are at first compounded with them, till, by frequency of use, they are
incorporated into the same word. "A merci_ful_ man" is one who is full
of mercy. A gold_en_ ball is one made of gold. This word is sometimes
used without change; as, a _gold_ ring.

A numerous portion of these words take the syllable _ly_, contracted
from _like_, which is still retained in many words; as, Judas-_like_,
lady-_like_, gentleman-_like_. These two last words, are of late,
occasionally used as other words, lady_ly_, gentleman_ly_; but the last
more frequently than the former. She behaved very ladi_ly_, or
lady_like_; and his appearance was quite gentleman_ly_. But to say
ladi_ly_ appearance, does not yet sound quite soft enough; but it is
incorrect only because it is uncommon. God_ly_ and god_like_ are both in
use, and equally correct, with a nice shade of difference in meaning.

All grammarians have found a difficulty in the word _like_, which they
were unable to unravel. They could never account for its use in
expressing a relation between two objectives. They forgot that to be
like, one thing must be _likened_ to another, and that it was the very
meaning of this word to express such like_ness_. John looks _like_ his
brother. The looks, the countenance, or appearance of John, are
_likened_ to his brother's looks or appearance. "This machine is more
like the pattern than any I have seen." Here the adjective _like_ takes
the comparative degree, as it is called, to show a nearer resemblance
than has been before observed between the things compared. "He has a
statesman-_like_ appearance." I _like_ this apple, because it agrees
with my taste; it has qualities _like_ my notion of what is palateable."
In every situation the word is used to express likeness between two
things. It describes one thing by its likeness to another.

Many adjectives are formed from proper nouns by adding an apostrophe and
the letter _s_, except when the word ends in _s_, in which case the
final _s_ is usually omitted for the sake of euphony. This, however, was
not generally adopted by old writers. It is not observed in the earliest
translations of the Bible into the english language. It is now in common
practice. Thus, Montgomery's monument in front of St. Paul's church;
Washington's funeral; Shay's rebelion; England's bitterest foes;
Hamlet's father's ghost; Peter's wife's mother; Todd's, Walker's,
Johnson's dictionary; Winchell's Watts' hymns; Pond's Murray's grammar.
No body would suppose that the "relation of property or possession" was
expressed in these cases, as our grammar books tell us, but that the
terms employed are used to _define_ certain objects, about which we are
speaking. They possess the true character and use of adjectives, and as
such let them be regarded. It must be as false as frivolous to say that
Montgomery, who nobly fell at the siege of Quebec, _owns_ the monument
erected over his remains, which were conveyed to New-York many years
after his death; or that St. Paul _owns_ or _possesses_ the church
beneath which they were deposited; that Hamlet owned his father, and his
father his ghost; that Todd owns Walker, and Walker owns Johnson, and
Johnson his dictionary which may have had a hundred owners, and never
been the property of its author, but printed fifty years after his
death. These words, I repeat, are merely _definitive_ terms, and like
others serve to point out or specify particular objects which may thus
be better known.

Words, however, in common use form adjectives the same as other words;
as, Russia iron, China ships, India silks, Vermont cheese, Orange county
butter, New-York flour, Carolina potatoes. Morocco leather was first
manufactured in a city of Africa called by that name, but it is now made
in almost every town in our country. The same may be said of Leghorn
hats, Russia binding, French shoes, and China ware. Although made in our
own country we still retain the words, morocco, leghorn, russia, french,
and china, to define the fashion, kind, or quality of articles to which
we allude. Much china ware is made in Liverpool, which, to distinguish
it from the real, is called liverpool china. Many french shoes are made
in Lynn, and many Roxbury russets, Newton pippins, and Rhode-Island
greenings, grow in Vermont.

It may not be improper here to notice the adjectives derived from
pronouns, which retain so much of their character as relates to the
persons who employ them. These are _my_, _thy_, _his_, _her_, _its_,
_our_, _your_, _their_, _whose_. This is _my_ book, that is _your_ pen,
this is _his_ knife, and that is _her_ letter. Some of these, like other
words, vary their ending when standing alone; as, two apples are
your_s_, three her_s_, six their_s_, five our_s_, and the rest mine.
_His_ does not alter in popular use. Hence the reason why you hear it so
often, in common conversation, when standing without the noun expressed,
pronounced as if written _hisen_. The word _other_, and some others,
come under the same remark. When the nouns specified are expressed, they
take the regular termination; as, give me these Baldwin apples, and a
few others--a few other apples.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a class of small words which from the frequency of their use
have, like pronouns, lost their primitive character, and are now
preserved only as adjectives. Let us examine a few of them by
endeavoring to ferret out their true meaning and application in the
expression of ideas. We will begin with the old articles, _a_, _an_, and
_the_, by testing the truth and propriety of the duty commonly assigned
to them in our grammars.

The standard grammar asserts that "an article is a word prefixed to
substantives, to point them out, and to show how far their signification
extends; as, "a garden, an eagle, the woman." Skepticism in grammar is
no crime, so we will not hesitate to call in question the correctness of
this "best of all grammars beyond all comparison." Let us consider the
very examples given. They were doubtless the best that could be found.
Does _a_ "point out" the garden, or "show how far its signification
extends?" It does neither of these things. It may name "_any_" garden,
and it certainly does not define whether it is a _great_ or a _small_
one. It simply determines that _one_ garden is the subject of remark.
All else is to be determined by the word _garden_.

We are told there are two articles, the one _in_definite, the other
definite--_a_ is the former, and _the_ the latter. I shall leave it with
you to reconcile the apparent contradiction of an _indefinite_ article
which "is used in a _vague sense, to point out the signification_ of
another word." But I challenge teachers to make their pupils comprehend
such a jargon, if they can do it themselves. But it is as good sense as
we find in many of the popular grammars of the day.

Again, Murray says "_a_ becomes _an_ before a vowel or silent _h_;" and
so say all his _simplifying_ satellites after him. Is such the fact? Is
he right? He is, I most unqualifiedly admit, with this little
correction, the addition of a single word--he is right _wrong_! Instead
of _a_ becoming _an_, the reverse is the fact. The word is derived
directly from the same word which still stands as our first numeral. It
was a short time since written _ane_, as any one may see by consulting
all old books. By and by it dropped the _e_, and afterwards, for the
sake of euphony, in certain cases, the _n_, so that now it stands a
single letter. You all have lived long enough to have noticed the
changes in the word. Formerly we said _an_ union, _an_ holiday, _an_
universalist, _an_ unitarian, &c., expressions which are now rarely
heard. We now say _a_ union, &c. This single instance proves that
arbitrary rules of grammar have little to do in the regulation of
language. Its barriers are of sand, soon removed. It will not be said
that this is an unimportant mistake, for, if an error, it is pernicious,
and if a grammarian knows enough to say that _a_ becomes _an_, he ought
to know that he tells a falsehood, and that _an_ becomes _a_ under
certain circumstances. Mr. Murray gives the following example to
illustrate the use of _a_. "Give me _a_ book; that is, _any_ book." How
can the learner understand such a rule? How will it apply? Let us try
it. "A man has _a_ wife;" that is, _any_ man has _any_ wife. I have a
hat; that is, _any_ hat. A farmer has a farm--_any_ farmer has _any_
farm. A merchant in Boston has a beautiful piece of broadcloth--_any_
merchant in Boston has any beautiful piece of broadcloth. A certain king
of Europe decreed a protestant to be burned--_any_ king of Europe
decreed _any_ protestant to be burned. How ridiculous are the rules we
have learned and taught to others, to enable them to "speak and write
with propriety." No wonder we never understood grammar, if so at
variance with truth and every day's experience. The rules of grammar as
usually taught can never be observed in practice. Hence it is called a
_dry study_. In every thing else we learn something that we can
understand, which will answer some good purpose in the affairs of life.
But this branch of science is among the things which have been tediously
learned to no purpose. No good account can be given of its advantages.

_The_, we are told, "is called the definite article, because it
ascertains what _particular_ thing or things are meant." A most
unfortunate definition, and quite as erroneous as the former. Let us try
it. _The_ stars shine, _the_ lion roars, _the_ camel is a beast of
burden, _the_ deer is good for food, _the_ wind blows, _the_ clouds
appear, _the_ Indians are abused. What is there in these examples, which
"ascertain what _particular_ thing or things are meant?" They are
expressions as _in_definite as we can imagine.

On the other hand, should I say _a_ star shines, _a_ lion roars, _an_
Indian is abused, _a_ wind blows, _a_ cloud appears, you would
understand me to allude very _definitely_ to _one_ "particular" object,
as separate and distinguished from others of its kind.

But what is the wonderful peculiarity in the meaning and use of these
two little words that makes them so unlike every thing else, as to
demand a separate "part of speech?" You may be surprised when I tell you
that there are other words in our language derived from the same source
and possessed of the same meaning; but such is the fact, as will soon
appear. Let us ask for the etymology of these important words. _A_
signifies _one_, never more, never less. In this respect it is always
_definite_. It is sometimes applied to a single thing, sometimes to a
whole class of things, to a [one] man, or to a [one] hundred men. It may
be traced thro other languages, ancient and modern, with little
modification in spelling; Greek _eis_, ein; Latin _unus_; Armoric
_unan_; Spanish and Italian _uno_; Portuguese _hum_; French _un_; German
_ein_; Danish _een_, _en_; Dutch _een_; Swedish _en_; Saxon, _an_,
_aen_, _one_--from which ours is directly derived--old English _ane_;
and more modernly _one_, _an_, _a_. In all languages it defines a thing
to be _one_, a united or congregated whole, and the word _one_ may
always be substituted without affecting the sense. From it is derived
our word _once_, which signifies _oned_, _united_, _joined_, as we shall
see when we come to speak of "contractions." In some languages _a_ is
styled an article, in others it is not. The Latin, for instance, has no
article, and the Greek has no _indefinite_. But all languages have words
which are like ours, pure adjectives, employed to specify certain
things. The argument drawn from the fact that some other languages have
_articles_, and therefore ours should, is fallacious. The Latin, which
was surpassed for beauty of style or power in deliverance by few, if any
others, never suffered from the lack of articles. Nor is there any
reason why we should honor two small adjectives with that high rank to
the exclusion of others quite as worthy.

_The_ is always used as a definitive word, tho it is the least definite
of the defining adjectives. In fact when we desire to "_ascertain
particularly_ what thing is meant," we select some more definite word.
"Give me _the_ books." Which? "Those with red covers, that in calf, and
this in Russia binding." _The_ nations are at peace. What nations?
_Those_ which were at war. You perceive how we employ words which are
more definite, that is, better understood, to "_point out_" the object
of conversation, especially when there is any doubt in the case. What
occasion, then, is there to give these [the?] words a separate "part of
speech," since in character they do not differ from others in the

We will notice another frivolous distinction made by Mr. Murray, merely
to show how learned men may be mistaken, and the folly of trusting to
special rules in the general application of words. He says, "Thou art
_a_ man," is a very general and _harmless_ expression; but, thou art
_the_ man, (as Nathan said to David,) is an assertion capable of
striking terror and remorse into the heart." The distinction in meaning
here, on which he insists, attaches to the articles _a_ and _the_. It is
a sufficient refutation of this definition to make a counter statement.
Suppose we say, "Murray is _the_ best grammarian in the world; or, he is
_a_ fool, _a_ knave, and _a_ liar." Which, think you, would be
considered the most _harmless_ expression? Suppose it had been said to
Aaron Burr, thou art _a_ traitor, or to General William Hull, thou art
_a_ coward, would they regard the phrase as "_harmless!_" On the other
hand, suppose a beautiful, accomplished, and talented young lady, should
observe to one of her suitors, "I have received offers of marriage from
several gentlemen besides yourself, but thou art =the= man of my
choice;" would it, think you, _strike_ terror and remorse into his
heart? I should pity the young student of Murray whose feelings had
become so stoical from the false teaching of his author as to be filled
with "terror and remorse" under such favorable circumstances, while fair
prospects of future happiness were thus rapidly brightening before him.
I speak as to the wise, judge ye what I say.

The adjective _that_ has obtained a very extensive application in
language. However, it may seem to vary in its different positions, it
still retains its primitive meaning. It is comprised of _the_ and _it_,
thait, theat, thaet (Saxon,) thata (Gothic,) dat (Dutch.) It is the most
decided definitive in our language. It is by use applied to things in
the singular, or to a multitude of things regarded as a whole. By use,
it applies to a collection of ideas expressed in a sentence; as, it was
resolved, _that_. What? Then follows _that fact_ which was resolved.
"Provided _that_, in case he does" so and so. "It was agreed _that_,"
_that fact_ was agreed to which is about to be made known. I wish you to
understand, all thro these lectures, _that_ I shall honestly endeavor to
expose error and establish truth. Wish you to understand _what_? _that
fact_, afterwards stated, "I shall endeavor," &c. You can not mistake my
meaning: _that_ would be impossible. What would be impossible? Why, to
mistake my meaning.

You can not fail to observe the true character of this word called by
our grammarians "adjective pronoun," "relative pronoun," and
"conjunction." They did not think to look for its meaning. Had that
(duty) been done, it would have stood forth in its true character, an
important defining word.

The only difficulty in the explanation of this word, originates in the
fact, that it was formerly applied to the plural as well as singular
number. It is now applied to the singular only when referring directly
to an object; as, _that man_. And it never should be used otherwise. But
we often see phrases like this; "These are the men _that_ rebeled." It
should be, "these are the men _who_ rebeled." This difficulty can not be
overcome in existing grammars on any other ground. In modern writings,
such instances are rare. _This_ and _that_ are applied to the singular;
_these_ and _those_ to the plural.

       *       *       *       *       *

=What= is a compound of two original words, and often retains the
meaning of both, when employed as a compound relative, "having in itself
both the antecedent and the relative," as our authors tell us. But when
it is dissected, it will readily enough be understood to be an
adjective, defining things under particular relations.

But I shall weary your patience, I fear, if I stay longer in this place
to examine the etymology of small words. I intended to have shown the
meaning and use of many words included in the list of conjunctions,
which are truly adjectives, such as _both_, _as_, _so_, _neither_,
_and_, etc.; but I let them pass for the present, to be resumed under
the head of contractions.

From the view we have given of this class of words, we are saved the
tediousness of studying the grammatical distinctions made in the books,
where no real distinctions exist. In character these words are like
adjectives; their meaning, like the meaning of all other words, is
peculiar to themselves. Let that be known, and there will be little
difficulty in classing them. We need not confuse the learner with
"adjective pronouns, possessive adjective pronouns, distributive
adjective pronouns, demonstrative adjective pronouns, _indefinite_
adjective pronouns," nor any other adjective pronouns, which can never
be understood nor explained. Children will be slow to apprehend the
propriety of a union of _adjectives_ and _pronouns_, when told that the
former is always used _with_ a noun, and never _for_ one; and the latter
always _for_ a noun, but never _with_ one; and yet, that there is such a
strange combination as a "_distributive or indefinite adjective
pronoun_,"--"confusion worse confounded."

In the french language, the gender of adjectives is varied so as to
agree with the nouns to which they belong. "Possessive pronouns," as
they are called, come under the same rule, which proves them to be in
character, and formation, adjectives; else the person using them must
change gender. The father says, _ma_ (feminine) _fille_, my daughter;
and the mother, _mon_ (masculine) _fils_, my son; the same as they would
say, _bon pere_, good father; _bonne mere_, good mother; or, in Latin,
_bonus pater_, or _bona mater_; or, in Spanish, _bueno padre_, _buena
madre_. In the two last languages, as well as all others, where the
adjectives vary the termination so as to agree with the noun, the same
fact may be observed in reference to their "pronouns." If it is a fact
that these words are _pronouns_, that is, stand for other _nouns_, then
the father is _feminine_, and the mother is _masculine_; and whoever
uses them in reference to the opposite sex must change gender to do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

Describing adjectives admit of variation to express different degrees of
comparison. The regular degrees have been reckoned three; positive,
comparative, and superlative. These are usually marked by changing the
termination. The _positive_ is determined by a comparison with other
things; as, a great house, a small book, compared with others of their
kind. This is truly a comparative degree. The _comparative_ adds _er_;
as, a great_er_ house, a small_er_ book. The _superlative_, _est_; as,
the great_est_ house, the small_est_ book.

Several adjectives express a comparison less than the positive, others
increase or diminish the regular degrees; as, whit_ish_ white, _very_
white, _pure_ white; whit_er_, _considerable_ whiter, _much_ whiter;
whit_est_, the _very_ whitest, _much_ the whitest _beyond all
comparison_, so that there can be none _whiter_, nor _so white_.

We make an aukward use of the words _great_ and _good_, in the
comparison of things; as, a _good deal_, or _great deal_ whiter; a
_good_ many men, or a _great_ many men. As we never hear of a _small_
deal, or a _bad_ deal whiter, nor of a _bad many_, nor _little many_, it
would be well to avoid such phrases.

The words which are added to other adjectives, to increase or diminish
the comparison, or assist in their definition, may properly be called
_secondary adjectives_, for such is their character. They do not refer
to the thing to be _defined_ or _described_, but to the adjective which
is affected, in some way, by them. They are easily distinguished from
the rest by noticing this fact. Take for example: "A _very dark red_ raw
silk lady's dress handkerchief." The resolution of this sentence would
stand thus:

    _A_ (                                               ) handkerchief.
     A  (           ) _red_ (                           ) handkerchief.
     A  (    ) _dark_  red  (                           ) handkerchief.
     A  _very_  dark   red  (                           ) handkerchief.
     A   very   dark   red  (   ) _silk_ (              ) handkerchief.
     A   very   dark   red  _raw_  silk  (              ) handkerchief.
     A   very   dark   red   raw   silk  (      ) _dress_ handkerchief.
     A   very   dark   red   raw   silk  _lady's_  dress  handkerchief.

We might also observe that _hand_ is an adjective, compounded by use
with _kerchief_. It is derived from the french word _couvrir_, to cover,
and _chef_, the head. It means a head dress, a cloth to cover, a neck
cloth, a napkin. By habit we apply it to a single article, and speak of
_neck_ handkerchief.

The nice shade of meaning, and the appropriate use of adjectives, is
more distinctly marked in distinguishing colors than in any thing else,
for the simple reason, that there is nothing in nature so closely
observed. For instance, take the word _green_, derived from _grain_,
because it is grain color, or the color of the fair carpet of nature in
spring and summer. But this hue changes from the _deep grass green_, to
the light olive, and words are chosen to express the thousand varying
tints produced by as many different objects. In the adaptation of
language to the expression of ideas, we do not separate these shades of
color from the things in which such colors are supposed to reside. Hence
we talk of _grass_, _pea_, _olive_, _leek_, _verdigris_, _emerald_,
_sea_, and _bottle_ green; also, of _light_, _dark_, _medium_; _very_
light, or dark grass, pea, olive, or _invisible_ green.

_Red_, as a word, means _rayed_. It describes the appearance or
substance produced when _rayed_, reddened, or radiated by the morning
beams of the sun, or any other _radiating_ cause.

_Wh_ is used for _qu_, in white, which means _quite_, _quited_,
_quitted_, _cleared_, _cleansed_ of all _color_, _spot_, or _stain_.

_Blue_ is another spelling for _blew_. Applied to color, it describes
something in appearance to the sky, when the clouds and mists are
_blown_ away, and the clear _blue ether_ appears.

You will be pleased with the following extract from an eloquent writer
of the last century,[9] who, tho somewhat extravagant in some of his
speculations, was, nevertheless, a close observer of nature, which he
studied as it is, without the aid of human theories. The beauty of the
style, and the correctness of the sentiment, will be a sufficient
apology for its length.

"We shall employ a method, not quite so learned, to convey an idea of
the generation of colors, and the decomposition of the solar ray.
Instead of examining them in a prism of glass, we shall consider them in
the heavens, and there we shall behold the five primordial colours
_unfold themselves_ in the order which we have indicated.

"In a fine summer's night, when the sky is loaded only with some light
vapours, sufficient to stop and to refract the rays of the sun, walk out
into an open plain, where the first fires of Aurora may be perceptible.
You will first observe the horizon _whiten_ at the spot where she is to
make her appearance; and this radiance, from its colour, has procured
for it, in the French language, the name of _aube_, (the dawn,) from the
Latin word _alba_, white. This whiteness insensibly ascends in the
heavens, _assuming_ a tint of yellow some degrees above the horizon; the
yellow as it rises passes into orange; and this shade of orange rises
upward into the lively vermilion, which extends as far as the zenith.
From that point you will perceive in the heavens behind you the violet
succeeding the vermilion, then the azure, after it the deep blue or
indigo colour, and, last of all, the black, quite to the westward.

"Though this display of colours presents a multitude of intermediate
shades, which rapidly succeed each other, yet at the moment the sun is
going to exhibit his disk, the dazzling white is visible in the horizon,
the pure yellow at an elevation of forty-five degrees; the fire color in
the zenith; the pure blue forty-five degrees under it, toward the west;
and in the very west the dark veil of night still lingering on the
horizon. I think I have remarked this progression between the tropics,
where there is scarcely any horizontal refraction to make the light
prematurely encroach on the darkness, as in our climates.

"Sometimes the trade-winds, from the north-east or south-east, blow
there, card the clouds through each other, then sweep them to the west,
crossing and recrossing them over one another, like the osiers
interwoven in a transparent basket. They throw over the sides of this
chequered work the clouds which are not employed in the contexture, roll
them up into enormous masses, as white as snow, draw them out along
their extremities in the form of a crupper, and pile them upon each
other, moulding them into the shape of mountains, caverns, and rocks;
afterwards, as evening approaches, they grow somewhat calm, as if afraid
of deranging their own workmanship. When the sun sets behind this
magnificent netting, a multitude of luminous rays are transmitted
through the interstices, which produce such an effect, that the two
sides of the lozenge illuminated by them have the appearance of being
girt with gold, and the other two in the shade seem tinged with _ruddy_
orange. Four or five divergent streams of light, emanated from the
setting sun up to the zenith, _clothe_ with fringes of gold the
undeterminate summits of this celestial barrier, and strike with the
reflexes of their fires the pyramids of the collateral aerial mountains,
which then appear to consist of _silver_ and _vermilion_. At this moment
of the evening are perceptible, amidst their redoubled ridges, a
multitude of valleys extending into infinity, and distinguishing
themselves at their opening by some shade of flesh or of rose colour.

"These celestial valleys present in their different contours inimitable
tints of white, melting away into white, or shades lengthening
themselves out without mixing over other shades. You see, here and
there, issuing from the cavernous sides of those mountains, tides of
_light_ precipitating themselves, in ingots of gold and silver, over
rocks of coral. Here it is a gloomy rock, pierced through and through,
disclosing, beyond the aperture, the pure azure of the firmament; there
it is an extensive strand, covered with sands of gold, stretching over
the rich ground of heaven; _poppy-coloured_, _scarlet_, and _green_ as
the emerald.

"The reverberation of those western colours diffuses itself over the
sea, whose azure billows it _glazes_ with saffron and purple. The
mariners, leaning over the gunwale of the ship, admire in silence those
aerial landscapes. Sometimes this sublime spectacle presents itself to
them at the hour of prayer, and seems to invite them to lift up their
hearts with their voices to the heavens. It changes every instant into
forms as variable as the shades, presenting celestial colors and forms
which no pencil can pretend to imitate, and no language can describe.

"Travellers who have, at various seasons, ascended to the summits of the
highest mountains on the globe, never could perceive, in the clouds
below them, any thing but a gray and lead-colored surface, similar to
that of a lake. The sun, notwithstanding, illuminated them with his
whole light; and his rays might there combine all the laws of refraction
to which our systems of physics have subjected them. Hence not a single
shade of color is employed in vain, through the universe; those
celestial decorations being made for the level of the earth, their
magnificent point of view taken from the habitation of man.

"These admirable concerts of lights and forms, manifest only in the
lower region of the clouds the least illuminated by the sun, are
produced by laws with which I am totally unacquainted. But the whole are
reducible to five colors: yellow, a generation from white; red, a deeper
shade of yellow; blue, a strong tint of red; and black, the extreme tint
of blue. This progression cannot be doubted, on observing in the morning
the expansion of the light in the heavens. You there see those five
colors, with their intermediate shades, generating each other nearly in
this order: white, sulphur yellow, lemon yellow, yolk of egg yellow,
orange, aurora color, poppy red, full red, carmine red, purple, violet,
azure, indigo, and black. Each color seems to be only a strong tint of
that which precedes it, and a faint tint of that which follows; thus the
whole together appear to be only modulations of a progression, of which
white is the first term, and black the last.

"Indeed trade cannot be carried on to any advantage, with the Negroes,
Tartars, Americans, and East-Indians, but through the medium of red
cloths. The testimonies of travellers are unanimous respecting the
preference universally given to this color. I have indicated the
universality of this taste, merely to demonstrate the falsehood of the
philosophic axiom, that tastes are arbitrary, or that there are in
Nature no laws for beauty, and that our tastes are the effects of
prejudice. The direct contrary of this is the truth; prejudice corrupts
our natural tastes, otherwise the same over the whole earth.

"With red Nature heightens the brilliant parts of the most beautiful
flowers. She has given a complete clothing of it to the rose, the queen
of the garden: and bestowed this tint on the blood, the principle of
life in animals: she invests most of the feathered race, in India, with
a plumage of this color, especially in the season of love; and there are
few birds without some shades, at least, of this rich hue. Some preserve
entirely the gray or brown ground of their plumage, but glazed over with
red, as if they had been rolled in carmine; others are besprinkled with
red, as if you had blown a scarlet powder over them.

"The red (or _rayed_) color, in the midst of the five primordial colors,
is the harmonic expression of them by way of excellence; and the result
of the union of two contraries, light and darkness. There are, besides,
agreeable tints, compounded of the oppositions of extremes. For example,
of the second and fourth color, that is, of yellow and blue, is formed
green, which constitutes a very beautiful harmony, and ought, perhaps,
to possess the second rank in beauty, among colors, as it possesses the
second in their generation. Nay, green appears to many, if not the most
beautiful tint, at least the most lovely, because it is less dazzling
than red, and more congenial to the eye."

Many words come under the example previously given to illustrate the
secondary character of adjectives, which should be carefully noticed by
the learner, to distinguish whether they define or describe things, or
are added to increase the distinction made by the adjectives themselves,
for both defining and describing adjectives admit of this addition; as,
_old_ English coin, New England rebelion; a mounted whip, and a _gold_
mounted sword--not a gold sword; a _very fine_ Latin scholar.

Secondary adjectives, also, admit of comparison in various ways; as,
_dearly_ beloved, a _more_ beloved, the _best_ beloved, the _very_ best
beloved brother.

Words formerly called "prepositions," admit of comparison, as I have
before observed. "Benhadad fled into an _inner_ chamber." The in_ner_
temple. The in_most_ recesses of the heart. The _out_ fit of a squadron.
The out_er_ coating of a vessel, or house. The ut_most_ reach of
grammar. The _up_ and _down_ hill side of a field. The up_per_ end of
the lot. The upper_most_ seats. A part _of_ the book. Take it _farther
off_. The _off_ cast. India _beyond_ the Ganges. Far beyond the
boundaries of the nation. I shall go _to_ the city. I am _near to_ the
town. _Near_ does not _qualify the verb_, for it has nothing to do with
it. I can exist in one place as well as another. It is _below_ the
surface; _very far_ below it. It is above the earth--"high above all

Such expressions frequently occur in the expression of ideas, and are
correctly understood; as difficult as it may have been to describe them
with the theories learned in the books--sometimes calling them one
thing, sometimes another--when their character and meaning was
unchanged, or, according to old systems, had "no meaning at all of their

But I fear I have gone _far_ beyond your patience, and, perhaps, entered
_deeper_ into this subject than was necessary, to enable you to discover
my meaning. I desired to make the subject _as_ distinct _as_ possible,
that all might see the important improvement suggested. I am
apprehensive even now, that some will be compelled to _think_ many
_profound thoughts_ before they will see the end of the obscurity under
which they have long been shrouded, in reference to the false rules
which they have been taught. But we have one consolation--those who are
not bewildered by the grammars they have tried in vain to understand,
will not be very likely to make a wrong use of adjectives, especially if
they have ideas to express; for there is no more danger of mistaking an
adjective for a noun, or verb, than there is of mistaking a _horse_
chestnut for a _chestnut_ horse.

       *       *       *       *       *

In our next we shall commence the consideration of Verbs, the most
important department in the science of language, and particularly so in
the system we are defending. I hope you have not been uninterested thus
far in the prosecution of the subject of language, and I am confident
you will not be in what remains to be said upon it. The science, so long
regarded _dry_ and uninteresting, becomes delightful and easy; new and
valuable truths burst upon us at each advancing step, and we feel to
bless God for the ample means afforded us for obtaining knowledge from,
and communicating it to others, on the most important affairs of time
and eternity.



    Unpleasant to expose error.--Verbs defined.--Every thing acts.--
    Actor and object.--Laws.--Man.--Animals.--Vegetables.--Minerals.--
    Neutrality degrading.--Nobody can explain a neuter verb.--_One_ kind
    of verbs.--_You_ must decide.--Importance of teaching children the
    truth.--Active verbs.--Transitive verbs false.--Samples.--Neuter
    verbs examined.--Sit.--Sleep.--Stand.--Lie.--Opinion of Mrs.

We now come to the consideration of that class of words which in the
formation of language are called _Verbs_. You will allow me to bespeak
your favorable attention, and to insist most strenuously on the
propriety of a free and thoro examination into the nature and use of
these words. I shall be under the necessity of performing the thankless
task of exposing the errors of honest, wise, and good men, in order to
remove difficulties which have long existed in works on language, and
clear the way for a more easy and consistent explanation of this
interesting and essential department of literature. I regret the
necessity for such labors; but no person who wishes the improvement of
mankind, or is willing to aid the growth of the human intellect, in its
high aspirations after truth, knowledge, and goodness, should shrink
from a frank exposition of what he deems to be error, nor refuse his
assistance, feeble tho it may be, in the establishment of correct

In former lectures we have confined our remarks to things and a
description of their characters and relations, so that every entity of
which we can conceive a thought, or concerning which we can form an
expression, has been defined and described in the use of nouns and
adjectives. Every thing in creation, of which we think, material or
immaterial, real or imaginary, and to which we give a name, to represent
the idea of it, comes under the class of words called nouns. The words
which specify or distinguish one thing from another, or describe its
properties, character, or relations, are designated as adjectives. There
is only one other employment left for words, and that is the expression
of the actions, changes, or inherent tendencies of things. This
important department of knowledge is, in grammar, classed under the head
of =Verbs=.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Verb_ is derived from the Latin _verbum_, which signifies a _word_. By
specific application it is applied to those _words_ only which express
action, correctly understood; the same as Bible, derived from the Greek
"_biblos_" means literally _the book_, but, by way of eminence, is
applied to the sacred scriptures only.

This interesting class of words does not deviate from the correct
principles which we have hitherto observed in these lectures. It depends
on established laws, exerted in the regulation of matter and thought;
and whoever would learn its sublime use must be a close observer of
things, and the mode of their existence. The important character it
sustains in the production of ideas of the changes and tendencies of
things and in the transmission of thought, will be found simple, and
obvious to all.

Things exist; Nouns name them.

Things differ; Adjectives define or describe them.

Things act; Verbs express their actions.

    _All Verbs denote action._

By action, we mean not only perceivable motion, but an inherent tendency
to change, or resist action. It matters not whether we speak of animals
possessed of the power of locomotion; of vegetables, which _send_ forth
their branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruits; or of minerals, which
_retain_ their forms, positions, and properties. The same principles are
concerned, the same laws exist, and should be observed in all our
attempts to understand their operations, or employ them in the promotion
of human good. Every thing acts according to the ability it possesses;
from the small particle of sand, which _occupies_ its place upon the sea
shore, up thro the various gradation of being, to the tall archangel,
who _bows_ and _worships_ before the throne of the uncreated Cause of
all things and actions which exist thro out his vast dominions.

As all actions presuppose an _actor_, so every action must result on
some _object_. No effect can exist without an efficient cause to produce
it; and no cause can exist without a corresponding effect resulting from
it. These mutual relations, helps, and dependencies, are manifest in all
creation. Philosophy, religion, the arts, and all science, serve only to
develope these primary laws of nature, which unite and strengthen,
combine and regulate, preserve and guide the whole. From the Eternal I
AM, the uncreated, self-existent, self-sustaining =Cause= of all things,
down to the minutest particle of dust, evidences may be traced of the
existence and influence of these laws, in themselves irresistible,
exceptionless, and immutable. Every thing has a place and a duty
assigned it; and harmony, peace, and perfection are the results of a
careful and judicious observance of the laws given for its regulation.
Any infringement of these laws will produce disorder, confusion, and

Man is made a little lower than the angels, possessed of a mind capable
of reason, improvement, and happiness; an intellectual soul inhabiting a
mortal body, the connecting link between earth and heaven--the material
and spiritual world. As a physical being, he is subject, in common with
other things, to the laws which regulate matter: as an intellectual
being, he is governed by the laws which regulate mind: as possessed of
both a body and mind, a code of moral laws demand his observance in all
the social relations and duties of life. Obedience to these laws is the
certain source of health of body, and peace of mind. An infringement of
them will as certainly be attended with disease and suffering to the
one, and sorrow and anguish to the other.

Lower grades of animals partake of many qualities in common with man. In
some they are deficient; in others they are superior. Some animals are
possessed of all but reason, and even in that, the highest of them come
very little short of the lowest of the human species. If they have not
reason, they possess an instinct which nearly approaches it. These
qualities dwindle down gradually thro the various orders and varieties
of animated nature, to the lowest grade of animalculæ, a multitude of
which may inhabit a single drop of water; or to the zoophytes and
lythophytes, which form the connecting link between the animal and
vegetable kingdom; as the star-fish, the polypus, and spunges. Then
strike off into another kingdom, and observe the laws vegetable life.
Mark the tall pine which has grown from a small seed which _sent_ forth
its root downwards and its trunk upwards, drawing nourishment from
earth, air, and water, till it now waves its top to the passing breeze,
a hundred feet above this dirty earth: or the oak or olive, which have
_maintained_ their respective positions a dozen centuries despite the
operations of wind and weather, and have shed their foliage and their
seeds to propagate their species and extend their kinds to different
places. While a hundred generations have lived and died, and the country
often changed masters, they resist oppression, scorn misrule, and retain
rights and privileges which are slowly encroached upon by the inroads of
time, which will one day triumph over them, and they fall helpless to
the earth, to submit to the chemical operations which shall dissolve
their very being and cause them to mingle with the common dust, yielding
their strength to give life and power to other vegetables which shall
occupy their places.[10] Or mark the living principle in the "sensitive
plant," which withers at every touch, and suffers long ere it regains
its former vigor.

Descend from thence, down thro the various gradations of vegetable life,
till you pass the narrow border and enter the mineral world. Here you
will see displayed the same sublime principle, tho in a modified degree.
Minerals _assume_ different shapes, hues and relations; they increase
and diminish, attach and divide under various circumstances, all the
while _retaining_ their identity and properties, and exerting their
abilities according to the means they possess, till compelled to yield
to a superior power, and learn to submit to the laws which operate in
every department of this mutable world.

_Every_ thing _acts_ according to the ability God has bestowed upon it;
and man can do no more. He has authority over all things on earth, and
yet he is made to depend upon all. His authority extends no farther than
a privilege, under wholesome restrictions, of making the whole
subservient to his real good. When he goes beyond this, he usurps a
power which belongs not to him, and the destruction of his happiness
pays the forfeit of his imprudence. The injured power rises triumphant
over the aggressor, and the glory of God's government, in the righteous
and immediate execution of his laws, is clearly revealed. So long as man
obeys the laws which regulate health, observes temperance in all things,
uses the things of this world as not abusing them, he is at rest, he is
blessed, he is happy: but no sooner has he violated heaven's law than he
becomes the slave, and the servant assumes the master. But I am
digressing. I would gladly follow this subject further, but I shall go
beyond my limits, and, it may be, your patience.

I would insist, however, on the facts to which your attention has been
given, for it is impossible, as I have before contended, to use language
correctly without a knowledge of the things and ideas it is employed to

Grovelling, indeed, must be the mind which will not trace the sublime
exhibitions of Divine power and skill in all the operations of nature;
and false must be that theory which teaches the young mind to think and
speak of neutrality as attached to things which do exist. As low and
debasing as the speculations of the schoolmen were, they gave to things
which they conceived to be incapable of action, a principle which they
called "_vis inertiæ_," or, _power to lie still_. Shall our systems of
instruction descend below them, throw an insurmountable barrier in the
way of human improvement, and teach the false principles that actions
can exist without an effect, or that there is a class of words which
"express neither action or passion." Such a theory is at war with the
first principles of philosophy, and denies that "like causes produce
like effects."

The ablest minds have never been able to explain the foundation of a
"neuter verb," or to find a single word, with a solitary exception,
which does not, in certain conditions, express a positive action, and
terminate on a definite object; and that exception we shall see refers
to a verb which expresses the highest degree of conceivable action.
Still they have insisted on _three_ and some on _four_ kinds of verbs,
one expressing action, another passion or suffering, and the third
neutrality. We propose to offer a brief review of these distinctions,
which have so long perplexed, not only learners, but teachers
themselves, and been the fruitful source of much dissention among

It is to be hoped you will come up to this work with as great candor as
you have heretofore manifested, and as fully resolved to take nothing
for granted, because it has been said by good or great men, and to
reject nothing because it appears new or singular. Let truth be our
object and reason our guide to direct us to it. We can not fail of
arriving at safe and correct conclusions.

Mr. Murray tells us that "verbs are of three kinds, _active_, _passive_,
and _neuter_. In a note he admits of "active _transitive_ and
intransitive verbs," as a subdivision of his first kind. Most of his
"improvers" have adopted this distinction, and regard it as of essential

We shall contend, as before expressed, that _all_ verbs are of _one
kind_, that they _express action_, for the simple yet sublime reason,
that every thing acts, at all times, and under every possible condition;
according to the true definition of _action_ as understood and employed
by all writers on grammar, and natural and moral science. Here we are at
issue. Both, contending for principles so opposite, can not be correct.
One or the other, however pure the motives, must be attached to a system
wrong in theory, and of course pernicious in practice. You are to be the
umpires in the case, and, if you are faithful to your trust, you will
not be bribed or influenced in the least by the opinions of others. If
divested of all former attachments, if free from all prejudice, there
can be no doubt of the safety and correctness of your conclusions. But I
am apprehensive I expect too much, if I place the _new_ system of
grammar on a footing equally favorable in your minds with those you have
been taught to respect, as the only true expositions of language, from
your childhood up, and which are recommended to you on the authority of
the learned and good of many generations. I have to combat early
prejudices, and systems long considered as almost sacred. But I have in
my favor the common sense of the world, and a feeling of opposition to
existing systems, which has been produced, not so much by a detection of
their errors, as by a lack of capacity, as the learner verily thought,
to understand their profound mysteries. I am, therefore, willing to risk
the final decision with you, if _you_ will decide. But I am not willing
to have you made the tools of the opposite party, determined, whether
convinced or not, to hold to your old _neuter_ verb systems, right or
wrong, merely because others are doing so. All I ask is _your_ adoption
of what is proved to be undeniably true, and rejection of whatever is
found to be false.

Here is where the matter must rest, for it will not be pretended that it
is better to teach falsehood because it is ancient and popular, than
truth because it is novel. Teachers, in this respect, stand in a most
responsible relation to their pupils. They should always insist with an
unyielding pertinacity, on the importance of truth, and the evils of
error. Every trifling incident, in the course of education, which will
serve to show the contrast, should be particularly observed. If an error
can be detected in their books, they should be so taught as to be able
to correct it; and they should be so inclined as to be willing to do it.
They should not be skeptics, however, but close observers, original
thinkers, and correct reasoners. It is degrading to the true dignity and
independence of man, to submit blindly to any proposition. Freedom of
thought is the province of all. Children should be made to breathe the
free air of honest inquiry, and to inhale the sweet spirit of truth and
charity. They should not study their books as the end of learning, but
as a means of knowing. Books should be regarded as lamps, which are set
by the way side, not as the objects to be looked at, but the aids by
which we may find the object of our search. Knowledge and usefulness
constitute the leading motives in all study, and no occasion should be
lost, no means neglected, which will lead the young mind to their

Your attention is now invited to some critical remarks on the
distinctions usually observed in the use of verbs. Let us carefully
examine the meaning of these _three kinds_ and see if there is any
occasion for such a division; if they have any foundation in truth, or
application in the correct use of language. We will follow the
arrangements adopted by the most popular grammars.

"A _verb active_ expresses an action, and necessarily implies an agent,
and an object acted upon; as, to love, I love Penelope." A very
excellent definition, indeed! Had grammarians stopped here, their works
would have been understood, and proved of some service in the study of
language. But when they diverge from this bright spot in the
consideration of verbs--this oasis in the midst of a desert--they soon
become lost in the surrounding darkness of conjecture, and follow each
their own dim light, to hit on a random track, which to follow in the
pursuit of their object.

We give our most hearty assent to the above definition of a verb. It
expresses action, which necessarily implies an _actor_, and an _object_
influenced by the action. In our estimation it matters not whether the
object on which the action terminates is expressed or _understood_. If I
_love_, I must love some object; either my neighbor, my enemy, my
family, _myself_, or something else. In either case the _action_ is the
same, tho the objects may be different; and it is regarded, on all
hands, as an active verb. Hence when the object on which the action
terminates is not expressed, it is necessarily understood. All language
is, in this respect, more or less eliptical, which adds much to its
richness and brevity.

Active verbs, we are told, are divided into _transitive_ and
_intransitive_. Mr. Murray does not exactly approve of this distinction,
but prefers to class the intransitive and neuter together. Others, aware
of the fallacy of attempting to make children conceive any thing like
neutrality in the verbs, _run_, _fly_, _walk_, _live_, &c., have
preferred to mark the distinction and call them _in_transitive; because,
say they, they do not terminate on any object expressed.

A _transitive verb_ "expresses an action which passes from the agent to
the object; as, Cæsar conquered Pompey." To this definition we can not
consent. It attempts a distinction where there is none. It is not true
in principle, and can not be adopted in practice.

"Cæsar conquered Pompey." Did the act of conquering pass _transitively_
over from _Cæsar_ to Pompey? They might not have seen each other during
the whole battle, nor been within many miles of each other. They, each
of them, stood at the head of their armies, and alike gave orders to
their subordinate officers, and they again to their inferiors, and so
down, each man contending valiantly for _victory_, till, at last, the
fate of the day sealed the downfall of Pompey, and placed the crown of
triumph on the head of Cæsar. The expression is a correct one, but the
action expressed by the verb "conquered," is not transitive, as that
term is understood. A whole train of causes was put in operation which
finally terminated in the defeat of one, and the conquest of the other.

"Bonaparte _lost_ the battle of Waterloo." What did _he_ do to _lose_
the battle? He exerted his utmost skill to _gain_ the battle and escape
defeat. He did not do a single act, he entertained not a single thought,
which lead to such a result; but strove against it with all his power.
If the fault was _his_, it was because he failed to act, and not because
he labored to _lose_ the battle. He had too much at stake to adopt such
a course, and no man but a teacher of grammar, would ever accuse him of
_acting_ to _lose_ the battle.

"A man was sick; he desired to recover (his health). He took, for
medicine, opium by mistake, and _lost_ his life by it." Was he guilty of
suicide? Certainly, if our grammars are true. But he _lost_ his life in
trying to get well.

"A man in America _possesses_ property in Europe, and his children
_inherit_ it after his death." What do the children do to _inherit_ this
property, of which they know nothing?

"The geese, by their gabbling, _saved_ Rome from destruction." How did
the geese save the city? They made a noise, which waked the sentinels,
who roused the soldiers to arms; they fought, slew many Gauls, and
delivered the city.

"A man in New-York _transacts_ business in Canton." How does he do it?
He has an agent there to whom he sends his orders, and he transacts the
business. But how does he get his letters? The clerk writes them, the
postman carries them on board the ship, the captain commands the
sailors, who work the ropes which unfurl the sails, the wind blows, the
vessel is managed by the pilot, and after a weary voyage of several
months, the letters are delivered to the agent, who does the business
that is required of him.

The miser _denies_ himself every comfort, and spends his whole life in
hoarding up riches; and yet he dies and _leaves_ his gold to be the
possession of others.

Christians _suffer_ insults almost every day from the Turks.

Windows _admit_ light and _exclude_ cold.

Who can discover any thing like _transitive_ action--a passing from the
agent to the object--in these cases? What transitive action do the
windows perform to _admit the light_; or the christians, to _suffer
insults_; or the miser, to _leave his money_? If there is neutrality any
where, we would look for it here. The fact is, these words express
_relative_ action, as we shall explain when we come to the examination
of the true character of the verb.

_Neutrality_ signifies (transitive verb!) no action, and _neuter_ verbs
_express a state of being_! A class of words which can not act, which
apply to things in a quiescent state, _perform_ the transitive action of
"_expressing_ a state of being!"

Who does not perceive the inconsistency and folly of such distinctions?
And who has not found himself perplexed, if not completely bewildered in
the dark and intricate labyrinths into which he has been led by the
false grammar books! Every attempt he has made to extricate himself, by
the dim light of the "simplifiers," has only tended to bewilder him
still more, till he is utterly confounded, or else abandons the study

       *       *       *       *       *

An _intransitive_ verb "denotes action which is confined to the actor,
and does not pass over to another object; as, I sit, he lives, they

"A verb _neuter_ expresses neither action nor passion, but being, or a
state of being; as, I am, I sleep, I sit."

These verbs are nearly allied in character; but we will examine them
separately and fairly. The examples are the same, with exception of the
verb _to be_, which we will notice by itself, and somewhat at large, in
another place.

Our first object will be to ascertain the _meaning_ and use of the words
which have been given as samples of neutrality. It is unfortunate for
the neuter systems that they can not define a "neuter verb" without
making it express an action which terminates on some object.

       *       *       *

"The man _sits_ in his chair."

_Sits_, we are told, is a neuter verb. What does it mean? The man
_places_ himself in a sitting posture in his _seat_. He _keeps_ himself
in his chair by muscular energy, assisted by gravitation. The chair
_upholds_ him in that condition. Bring a small child and _sit_ it
(active verb,) in a chair beside him. Can it _sit_? No; it falls upon
the floor and is injured. Why did it fall? It was not able to _keep_
itself from falling. The lady fainted and _fell_ from her _seat_. If
there is no action in sitting, why did she not remain as she was? A
company of ladies and gentlemen from the boarding school and college,
entered the parlor of a teacher of neuter verbs; and he asked them to
_sit_ down, or be _seated_. They were neutral. He called them impolite.
But they replied, that _sit_ "expresses neither action nor passion," and
hence he could not expect them to occupy his seats.

"_Sit_ or _set_ it away; _sit_ near me; _sit_ farther along; _sit_
still;" are expressions used by every teacher in addressing his
scholars. On the system we are examining, what would they understand by
such inactive expressions? Would he not correct them for disobeying his
orders? But what did he order them to do? Nothing at all, if _sit_
denotes no action.

    "I _sat_ me down and wept."

    "He _sat him_ down by a pillar's base,
    And drew his hand athwart his face."

    "Then, having shown his wounds, he'd _sit him_ down,
    And, all the live long day, discourse of war."
                              _Tragedy of Douglass._

            "But wherefore _sits he_ there?
    Death on my state! _This act_ convinces me
    That this retiredness of the duke and her,
    Is plain contempt."
                              _King Lear._

    "_Sitting_, the _act of resting_ on a seat.
    _Session_, the _act of sitting_."
                              _Johnson's Dictionary._

       *       *       *

"_I sleep._"

Is sleep a neuter verb? So we are gravely told by our authors. Can
grammarians follow their own rules? If so, they may spend the "live long
night" and "its waking hours," without resorting to "tired nature's
sweet restorer, balmy sleep;" for there is no process under heaven
whereby they can procure sleep, unless they _sleep_ it. For one, I can
never _sleep_ without sleeping _sleep_--sometimes only a short _nap_. It
matters not whether the object is expressed or not. The action remains
the same. The true object is necessarily understood, and it would be
superfluous to name it. Cases, however, often occur where, both in
speaking and writing, it becomes indispensable to mention the object.
"The stout hearted have _slept_ their sleep." "They shall _sleep_ the
_sleep_ of death." "They shall _sleep_ the perpetual _sleep_, and shall
not awake." "_Sleep_ on now and _take_ your rest." The child was
troublesome and the mother sung it to sleep, and it _slept itself_
quiet. A lady took opium and _slept herself_ to death. "Many persons
sleep themselves into a kind of unnatural stupidity." Rip Van Winkle,
according to the legend, _slept_ away a large portion of a common life.

    "Sleep, sleep to-day, tormenting cares."

    "And _sleep_ dull _cares_ away."

Was your sleep refreshing last night? How did you procure it? Let a
person who still adheres to his _neuter_ verbs, that sleep expresses no
action, and has no object on which it terminates, put his theory in
practice; he may as well sleep with his eyes open, sitting up, as to
_lie himself_ upon his bed.

A man lodged in an open chamber, and while he was _sleeping_ (doing
nothing) he _caught_ a severe _cold_ (active transitive verb) and had a
long _run_ of the fever. Who does not see, not only the bad, but also
the false philosophy of such attempted distinctions? How can you make a
child discover any difference in the _act of sleeping_, whether there is
an object after it, or not? Is it not the same? And is not the object
necessarily implied, whether expressed or not? Can a person _sleep_,
without procuring _sleep_?

       *       *       *

"_I stand._"

The man _stands_ firm in his integrity. Another stands in a very
precarious condition, and being unable to retain his hold, _falls_ down
the precipice and is killed. Who is killed? The man, surely. Why did he
fall? Because he could not _stand_. But there is no _action_ in
_standing_, say the books.

"_Stand_ by thyself, come not near me?" "_Stand_ fast in the liberty
wherewith Christ hath made you free, and _be_ not again entangled in the
yoke of bondage." "Let him that thinketh he _standeth_, take heed lest
he _fall_." If it requires no act to _stand_, there can be no danger of

"Two pillars stood together; the rest had fallen to the ground. The one
on the right was quite perfect in all its parts. The other _resembled
it_ very much, except it had _lost_ its capital, and _suffered_ some
other injuries." How could the latter column, while performing no action
in _standing_, act _transitively_, according to our grammars, and do
something to _resemble_ the other? or, what did it do to _lose_ its
capital, and _suffer_ other injury?

       *       *       *

"To _lie_, or _lay_."

It has been admitted that the verbs before considered are often used as
active verbs, and that there is, in truth, action expressed by them.
But when the man has fallen from his seat and _lies_ upon the floor, it
is contended that he no longer acts, and that _lie_ expresses no action.
He has ceased from physical, muscular action regulated by his will, and
is now subject to the common laws which govern matter.

Let us take a strong example. The book _lies_ or _lays_ on the desk. Now
you ask, does that book perform any action in laying on the desk? I
answer, yes; and I will prove it on the principles of the soundest
philosophy, to the satisfaction of every one present. Nor will I deviate
from existing grammars to do it, so far as real action is concerned.

The book _lies_ on the desk. The desk _supports_ the book. Will you
parse _supports_? It is, according to every system, an active transitive
verb. It has an objective case after it on which the action terminates.
But what does the desk do to _support_ the book? It barely resists the
action which the book _performs_ in lying on it. The action of the desk
and book is reciprocal. But if the book does not act, neither can the
desk act, for that only repels the force of the book in pressing upon it
in its tendency towards the earth, in obedience to the law of
gravitation. And yet our authors have told us that the desk is _active_
in resisting no action of the book! No wonder people are unable to
understand grammar. It violates the first principles of natural science,
and frames to itself a code of laws, unequal, false, and exceptionable,
which bear no affinity to the rest of the world, and will not apply in
the expression of ideas.

I was once lecturing on this subject in one of the cities of New-York.
Mrs. W., the distinguished teacher of one of the most popular Female
Seminaries in our country, attended. At the close of one lecture she
remarked that the greatest fault she had discovered in the new system,
was the want of a class of words to express neutrality. Children, she
said, conceived ideas of things in a quiescent state, and words should
be taught them by which to communicate such ideas. I asked her for an
example. She gave the rock in the side of the mountain. It had never
moved. It could never act. There it had been from the foundation of the
earth, and there it would remain unaltered and unchanged till time
should be no longer. I remarked, that I would take another small stone
and _lay_ it on the great one which could never act, and now we say the
great rock _upholds_, _sustains_ or _supports_ the small one--all active
transitive verbs with an object expressed.

She replied, she would give it up, for it had satisfied her of a new
principle which must be observed in the exposition of all language,
which accords with _facts as developed in physical and mental science_.

I continued, not only does that rock act in resisting the force of the
small one which lays upon it, but, by the attraction of gravitation it
is able to _maintain_ its _position_ in the side of the mountain; by
cohesion it _retains_ its distinct identity and solidity, and repels all
foreign bodies. It is also subject to the laws which govern the earth in
its diurnal and annual revolutions, and moves in common with other
matter at the astonishing rate of a thousand miles in an hour! Who shall
teach children, in these days of light and improvement, the grovelling
doctrine of neutrality, this relic of the peripatetic philosophy? Will
parents send their children to school to learn falsehood? And can
teachers be satisfied to remain in ignorance, following with blind
reverence the books they have studied, and refuse to examine new
principles, fearing they shall be compelled to acknowledge former
errors and study new principles? They should remember it is wiser and
more honorable to confess a fault and correct it, than it is to remain
permanent in error.

Let us take another example of the verb "_to lie_." A country pedagogue
who has followed his authorities most devotedly, and taught his pupils
that _lie_ is a "_neuter verb_, expressing neither action nor passion,
but simply being, or a state of being," goes out, during the
intermission, into a grove near by, to _exercise himself_. In attempting
to roll a log up the hill, he _makes_ a mis-step, and _falls_
(intransitive verb, _nothing_ falls!) to the ground, and the log _rolls_
(_nothing_) on to him, and _lies_ across his legs. In this condition he
is observed by his scholars to whom he cries (nothing) for help. "Do
(nothing) come (intransitive) and help me." They obey him and remain
_neuter_, or at least act _intransitively_, and produce no effects. He
cries again for help and his _cries_ are regarded. They _present_
themselves before him. "Do roll this log off; it will break my legs."
"Oh no, master; how can that be? The log _lies_ on you, does it not?"
"Yes, and it will _press me_ to death." "No, no; that can never be. The
log can not act. =Lies= is a _neuter_ verb, signifying neither _action_
nor passion, but simply being or a state of being. You have a _state_ of
being, and the log has a state of being. It can not harm you. You must
have forgotten the practical application of the truths you have been
teaching us." It would be difficult to explain neuter verbs in such a

    "Now I _lay_ me down _to sleep_."

"She died and they _laid her_ beside her lover under the spreading
branches of the willow."

"They _laid it_ away so secure that they could never find it."

They _laid_ down to _rest themselves_ after the fatigue of a whole day's

We have now considered the model verbs of the neuter kind, with the
exception of the verb =to be=, which is left for a distinct
consideration, being the most active of all verbs. It is unnecessary to
spend much time on this point. The errors I have examined have all been
discovered by teachers of language, long ago, but few have ventured to
correct them. An alleviation of the difficulty has been sought in the
adoption of the intransitive verb, which "expresses an action that is
confined to the actor or agent."

The remarks which have been given in the present lecture will serve as a
hint to the course we shall adopt in treating of them, but the more
particular examination of their character and uses, together with some
general observation on the agents and objects of verbs, will be deferred
to our next lecture.



    Neuter and intransitive.--Agents.--Objects.--No actions as such can
    be known distinct from the agent.--Imaginary actions.--Actions known
    by their effects.--Examples.--Signs should guide to things
    signified.--Principles of action.--=Power=.--Animals.--Vegetables.
    --Minerals.--All things act.--Magnetic needle.--=Cause=.--Explained.
    --First Cause.--=Means=.--Illustrated.--Sir I. Newton's example.--
    These principles must be known.--=Relative= action.--Anecdote of

We resume the consideration of verbs. We closed our last lecture with
the examination of _neuter verbs_, as they have been called. It appears
to us that evidence strong enough to convince the most skeptical was
adduced to prove that _sit_, _sleep_, _stand_ and _lie_, stand in the
same relation to language as other verbs, that they do not, in any case,
express neutrality, but frequently admit an objective word after them.
These are regarded as the most neutral of all the verbs except _to be_,
which, by the way, expresses the highest degree of action, as we shall
see when we come to inquire into its meaning.

Grammarians have long ago discovered the falsity of the books in the use
of a large portion of verbs which have been called neuter. To obviate
the difficulty, some of them have adopted the distinction of
_Intransitive_ verbs, which express action, but terminate on no object;
others still use the term _neuter_, but teach their scholars that when
the _object_ is _expressed_, it is active. This distinction has only
tended to perplex learners, while it afforded only a temporary expedient
to teachers, by which to dodge the question at issue. So far as the
action is concerned, which it is the business of the verb to express,
what is the difference whether "I _run_, or _run_ myself?" "A man
started in haste. He _ran_ so fast that he _ran himself_ to death." I
strike Thomas, Thomas _strikes David_, Thomas _strikes himself_. Where
is the difference in the action? What matters it whether the action
passes over to another object, or is confined within itself?

"But," says the objector, "you mistake. An intransitive verb is one
where the 'effect is confined within the subject, and does not pass over
to any object.'"

Very well, I think I understand the objection. When Thomas strikes David
the effects of the blow _passes over_ to him. And when he strikes
himself, it "is confined within the subject," and hence the latter is an
_intransitive_ verb.

"No, no; there is an object on which the action terminates, in that
case, and so we must call it a _transitive_ verb."

Will you give me an example of an _intransitive_ verb?

"I _run_, he _walks_, birds _fly_, it _rains_, the fire _burns_. No
objects are expressed after these words, so the action is confined
within themselves."

I now get your meaning. When the object is _expressed_ the verb is
transitive, when it is not it is intransitive. This distinction is
generally observed in teaching, however widely it may differ from the
intention of the makers of grammars. And hence children acquire the
habit of limiting their inquiries to what they see placed before them by
others, and do not think for themselves. When the verb has an objective
word after it _expressed_, they are taught to attach action to it; but
tho the action may be even greater, if the object is not expressed,
they consider the action as widely different in its character, and adopt
the false philosophy that a cause can exist without an effect resulting
from it.

We assume this ground, and we shall labor to maintain it, that every
verb necessarily presupposes an _agent_ or _actor_, an _action_, and an
_object_ acted upon, or affected by the action.

No action, as such, can be known to exist separate from the thing that
acts. We can conceive no idea of action, only by keeping our minds fixed
on the acting substance, marking its changes, movements, and tendencies.
"The book _moves_." In this case the eye rests on the book, and observes
its positions and attitudes, alternating one way and the other. You can
separate no action from the book, nor conceive any idea of it, as a
separate entity. Let the book be taken away. Where now is the action?
What can you think or say of it? There is the same space just now
occupied by the book, but no action is perceivable.

The boy _rolls_ his marble upon the floor. All his ideas of the action
performed by it are derived from an observation of the marble. His eye
follows it as it moves along the floor. He sees it in that acting
condition. When he speaks of the action as a whole, he thinks where it
started and where it stopped. It is of no importance, so far as the verb
is concerned, whether the marble received an impulse from his hand, or
whether the floor was sufficiently inclined to allow it to roll by its
own inherent tendency. The action is, in this case, the obvious change
of the marble.

Our whole knowledge of action depends on an observance of things in a
state of motion, or change, or exerting a tendency to change, or to
counteract an opposing substance.

This will be admitted so far as material things are concerned. The same
principle holds good in reference to every thing of which we form ideas,
or concerning which we use language. In our definition of nouns we spoke
of immaterial and imaginary things to which we gave _names_ and which we
consider as agencies capable of exerting an influence in the production
of effects, or in resisting actions. It is therefore unimportant whether
the action be real or imaginary. It is still inseparably connected with
the thing that acts; and we employ it thus in the construction of
language to express our thoughts. Thus, lions roar; birds sing; minds
reflect; fairies dance; knowledge increases; fancies err; imagination

This fact should be borne in mind in all our attempts to understand or
explain language. The mind should remain fixed to the acting substance,
to observe its changes and relations at different periods, and in
different circumstances. There is no other process by which any
knowledge can be gained of actions. The mind contemplates the acting
thing in a condition of change and determines the precise action by the
_altered condition_ of the thing, and thus learns to judge of actions by
their effects. The only method by which we can know whether a _vegetable
grows_ or not is by comparing its form to-day with what it was some days
ago. We can not decide on the improvement of our children only by
observing the same rule.

"By their fruits ye shall know them," will apply in physics as well as
in morals; for we judge of causes only by their effects. First
principles can never be known. We observe things as they _are_, and
remember how they _have been_; and from hence deduce our conclusions in
reference to the _cause_ of things we do not fully understand, or those
consequences which will follow a condition of things as now existing. It
is the business of philosophy to mark these effects, and trace them back
to the causes which produced them, by observing all the intermediate
changes, forms, attitudes, and conditions, in which such things have, at
different times, been placed.

We say, "_trees grow_." But suppose no change had ever been observed in
trees, that they had always been as they now are; in stature as lofty,
in foliage as green and beautiful, in location unaltered. Who would then
say, "trees grow?"

In this single expression a whole train of facts are taken into the
account, tho not particularly marked. As a single expression we imply
that _trees increase their stature_. But this we all know could never be
effected without the influence of other causes. The soil where it stands
must contain properties suited to the _growth_ of the tree. A due
portion of moisture and heat are also requisite. These facts all exist,
and are indispensable to make good the expression that the "tree grows."
We might also trace the capabilities of the tree itself, its roots,
bark, veins or pores, fibres or grains, its succulent and absorbent
powers. But, as in the case of the "man that killed the deer," noticed
in a former lecture, the mind here conceives a single idea of a complete
whole, which is signified by the single expression, "trees grow."

Let the following example serve in further illustration of this point.
Take two bricks, the one heated to a high temperature, the other cold.
Put them together, and in a short time you will find them of equal
temperature. One has grown warm, the other cool. One has _imparted_ heat
and _received_ cold, the other has _received_ heat and _imparted_ cold.
Yet all this would remain forever unknown, but for the effects which
must appear obvious to all. From these effects the causes are to be

It must, I think, appear plain to all who are willing to see, that
action, as such, can never exist distinct from the thing that acts; that
all our notions of action are derived from an observance of _things_ in
an acting condition; and hence that no words can be framed to express
our ideas of action on any other principle.

I hope you will bear these principles in mind. They are vastly important
in the construction of language, as will appear when we come to speak of
the _agents_ and _objects_ of action. We still adhere to the fact, that
no rules of language can be successfully employed, which deviate from
the permanent laws which operate in the regulation of matter and mind; a
fact which can not be too deeply impressed on your minds.

In the consideration of actions as expressed by verbs, we must observe
that _power_, _cause_, _means_, _agency_, and _effects_, are
indispensable to their existence. Such principles exist _in fact_, and
must be observed in obtaining a complete knowledge of language; for
words, we have already seen, are the expression of ideas, and ideas are
the impression of things.

In our attempts at improvement, we should strip away the covering, and
come at the reality. Words should be measurably forgotten, while we
search diligently for the things expressed by them. _Signs_ should
always conduct to the things _signified_. The weary traveller, hungry
and faint, would hardly satisfy himself with an examination of the
_sign_ before the inn, marking its form, the picture upon it, the nice
shades of coloring in the painting. He would go in, and search for the
thing signified.

It has been the fault in teaching language, that learners have been
limited to the mere _forms_ of words, while the important duty of
teaching them to look at the thing signified, has been entirely
disregarded. Hence they have only obtained book knowledge. They know
what the grammars say; but how to _apply_ what they say, or what is in
reality meant by it, they have yet to learn. This explains the reason
why almost every man who has studied grammar will tell you that "he
_used_ to understand it, but it has all gone from him, for he has not
looked into a _book_ these many years." Has he lost a knowledge of
language? Oh, no, he learned that before he saw a grammar, and will
preserve it to the day of his death. What good did his two or three
years study of grammar do him? None at all; he has forgotten all that he
ever knew of it, and that is not much, for he only learned what some
author said, and a few arbitrary rules and technical expressions which
he could never understand nor apply in practice, except in special
cases. But I wander. I throw in this remark to show you the necessity of
bringing your minds to a close observance of things as they do in truth
exist; and from them you can draw the principles of speech, and be able
to use language correctly. For we still insist on our former opinion,
that all language depends on the permanent laws of nature, as exerted in
the regulation of matter and mind.

       *       *       *

To return. I have said that all action denotes _power_, _cause_,
_means_, _agency_, and _effects_.

       *       *       *

_Power_ depends on _physical energy_, or _mental skill_. I have hinted
at this fact before. Things act according to the power or energy they
possess. Animals walk, birds fly, fishes swim, minerals sink, poisons
kill. Or, according to the adopted theories of naturalists:

Minerals _grow_.

Vegetables _grow_ and _live_.

Animals _grow_, and _live_, and _feel_.

Every thing acts according to the ability it possesses. Man, possessed
of reason, devises means and produces ends. Beasts change locations,
devour vegetables, and sometimes other beasts. The lowest grade of
animals never change location, but yet eat and live. Vegetables live and
grow, but do not change location. They have the power to reproduce their
species, and some of them to kill off surrounding objects. "The
_carraguata_ of the West Indies, clings round," says Goldsmith,
"whatever tree it happens to approach; there it quickly gains the
ascendant, and, loading the tree with a verdure not its own, keeps away
that nourishment designed to feed the trunk, and at last entirely
destroys its supporter." In our country, many gardens and fields present
convincing proof of the ability of weeds to kill out the vegetables
designed to grow therein. You all have heard of the _Upas_, which has a
power sufficient to destroy the lives of animals and vegetables for a
large distance around. Its very exhalations are death to whatever
approaches it. It serves in metaphor to illustrate the noxious effects
of all vice, of slander and deceit, the effects of which are to the
moral constitution, what the tree itself is to natural objects, blight
and mildew upon whatever comes within its reach.

Minerals are possessed of _power_ no less astonishing, which may be
observed whenever an opportunity is offered to call it forth. Active
poisons, able to slay the most powerful men and beasts, lie hid within
their bosoms. They have strong attractive and repelling powers. From the
iron is made the strong cable which _holds_ the vessel fast in her
moorings, _enabling_ it to outride the collected force of the winds and
waves which _threaten_ its destruction. From it also are manufactured
the manacles which bind the strong man, or fasten the lion in his cage.
Gold _possesses_ a power which _charms_ nearly all men to sacrifice
their ease, and too many their moral principles, to pay their blind
devotions at its shrine.

Who will contend that the power of action is confined to the animal
creation alone, and that inanimate matter can not act? That there is a
superior power possessed by man, endowed with an immaterial spirit in a
corporeal body, none will deny. By the agency of the mind he can
accomplish wonders, which mere physical power without the aid of such
mental skill, could never perform. But with all his boasted superiority,
he is often made the slave of inanimate things. His lofty powers of body
and soul bend beneath the weight of accumulated sorrows, produced by the
secret _operations_ of contagious disease, which _slays_ his wife,
children, and friends, who fall like the ripened harvest before the
gatherers scythe. Nay, he often submits to the controlling power of the
vine, alcohol, or tobacco, which _gain_ a secret influence over his
nobler powers, and _fix_ on him the stamp of disgrace, and _throw_
around him fetters from which he finds it no easy matter to extricate
himself. By the illusions of error and vice he is often betrayed, and
long endures darkness and suffering, till he _regains_ his native
energies, and finds deliverance in the enjoyment of truth and virtue.

What is that secret power which lies concealed beyond the reach of
human ken, and is transported from land to land unknown, till exposed in
conditions suited to its operation, will show its active and resistless
force in the destruction of life, and the devastation of whole cities or
nations? You may call it plague, or cholera, or small pox, miasma,
contagion, particles of matter floating in the air surcharged with
disease, or any thing else. It matters not what you call it. It is
sufficient to our present purpose to know that it has the ability to put
forth a prodigious power in the production of consequences, which the
highest skill of man is yet unable to prevent.

I might pursue this point to an indefinite length, and trace the secret
powers possessed by all created things, as exhibited in the influence
they exert in various ways, both as regards themselves and surrounding
objects. But you will at once perceive my object, and the truth of the
positions I assume. A common power pervades all creation, operating by
pure and perfect laws, regulated by the Great First Cause, the Moving
Principle, which guides, governs, and controls the whole.[11]

Degrading indeed must be those sentiments which limit all action to the
animal frame as an organized body, moved by a living principle. Ours is
a sublimer duty; to trace the operations of the Divine Wisdom which acts
thro out all creation, in the minutest particle of dust which _keeps_
its _position_ secure, till moved by some superior power; or in the
_needle_ which points with unerring skill to its fixed point, and
_guides_ the vessel, freighted with a hundred lives, safe thro the
midnight storm, to its destined haven; tho rocked by the waves and
driven by the winds, it remains uninfluenced, and tremblingly alive to
the important duties entrusted to its charge, continues its faithful
service, and is watched with the most implicit confidence by all on
board, as the only guide to safety. The same Wisdom is displayed thro
out all creation; in the beauty, order, and harmony of the universe; in
the planets which float in the azure vault of heaven; in the glow worm
that glitters in the dust; in the fish which cuts the liquid element; in
the pearl which sparkles in the bottom of the ocean; in every thing
that lives, moves, or has a being; but more distinctly in man, created
in the moral image of his Maker, possessed of a heart to feel, and a
mind to understand--the third in the rank of intelligent beings.

I cannot refuse to favor you with a quotation from that inimitable poem,
Pope's Essay on Man. It is rife with sentiment of the purest and most
exalted character. It is direct to our purpose. You may have heard it a
thousand times; but I am confident you will be pleased to hear it again.

      Ask for what end the heavenly bodies shine,
    Earth for whose use? Pride answers, "'Tis for mine:
    "For me kind nature wakes her genial pow'r,
    "Suckles each herb, and spreads out every flow'r;
    "Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew
    "The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;
    "For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings;
    "For me health gushes from a thousand springs;
    "Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;
    "My footstool earth, my canopy the skies."

      But errs not nature from this gracious end,
    From burning suns when livid deaths descend,
    When earthquakes swallow, or when tempests sweep
    Towns to one grave, whole nations to the deep?
    "_No_," ('tis replied,) "_the first Almighty Cause
    Acts not by partial, but by general laws;
    Th' exceptions few; some change since all began:
    And what created perfect?_" Why then man?
    If the great end be human happiness,
    Then nature deviates--and can man do less?
    As much that end a constant course requires
    Of show'rs and sunshine, as of man's desires;
    As much eternal springs and cloudless skies,
    As man forever temp'rate, calm, and wise.
    If plagues or earthquakes break not heaven's design.
    Why then a Borgia, or a Cataline?
    Who knows but He whose hand the lightning forms,
    Who heaves old ocean, and who wings the storms;
    Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind;
    Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind?
    From pride, from pride our very reas'ning springs;
    Account for moral as for nat'ral things:
    Why charge we heaven in those, in these acquit?
    In both, to reason right, is to submit.

      Better for us, perhaps, it might appear,
    Were there all harmony, all virtue here;
    That never air or ocean felt the wind;
    That never passion discomposed the mind.
    But =all= subsists by elemental strife;
    And passions are the elements of life.
    The general =order=, since the whole began,
    Is kept in nature, and is kept in man.

       *       *       *       *       *

      Look round our world, behold the chain of love.
    Combining all below and all above;
    See plastic nature working to this end,
    The single atoms each to other tend;
    Attract, attracted to, the next in place
    Formed and impelled its neighbor to embrace,
    See matter next, with various life endued,
    Press to one center still the gen'ral good.
    See dying vegetables life sustain,
    See life dissolving, vegetate again;
    All forms that perish, other forms supply,
    (By turns we catch the vital breath, and die)
    Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,
    They rise, they break, and to that sea return,
    Nothing is foreign--parts relate to whole;
    One all-extending, all-preserving soul
    Connects each being greatest with the least;
    Made beast in aid of man, and man of beast;
    All served, all serving; nothing stands alone;
    The chain holds on, and where it ends, unknown.

But _power_ alone is not sufficient to produce action. There must be a
=cause= to call it forth, to set in operation and exhibit its latent
energies. It will remain hid in its secret chambers till efficient
causes have set in operation the _means_ by which its existence is to be
discovered in the production of change, effects, or results. There is,
it is said, in every created thing a power sufficient to produce its own
destruction, as well as to preserve its being. In the human body, for
instance, there is a constant tendency to decay, to waste; which a
counteracting power resists, and, with proper assistance, keeps alive.

The same may be said of vegetables which are constantly throwing off, or
exhaling the waste, offensive, or useless matter, and yet a restoring
power, assisted by heat, moisture, and the nourishment of the earth,
resists the tendency to decay and preserves it alive and growing. The
air, the earth, nay, the ocean itself, philosophers assure us, contain
powers sufficient to self-destruction. But I will not enlarge here. Let
the necessary _cause_ be exerted which will give vent to this hidden
power and actions the most astonishing and destructive would be the
effect. These are often witnessed in the tremendous earthquakes which
devastate whole cities, states, and empires; in the tornados which pass,
like the genius of evil, over the land, levelling whatever is found in
its course; or in the waterspouts and maelstroms which prove the grave
of all that comes within their grasp.

In the attempted destruction of the royal family and parliament of
England, by what is usually called the "gunpowder plot," the
arrangements were all made; two hogsheads and thirty-six barrels of
powder, sufficient to blow up the house of lords and the surrounding
buildings, were secreted in a vault beneath it, strown over with
faggots. Guy Fawkes, a spanish officer, employed for the purpose, lay at
the door, on the 5th of November, 1605, with the matches, or _means_, in
his pocket, which should set in operation the prodigious dormant
_power_, which would hurl to destruction James I., the royal family, and
the protestant parliament, give the ascendancy to the Catholics, and
change the whole political condition of the nation. The _project_ was
discovered, the _means_ were removed, the _cause_ taken away, and the
threatened _effects_ were prevented.

The =cause= of action is the immediate subject which precedes or tends
to produce the action, without which it would not take place. It may
result from volition, inherent tendency, or communicated impulse; and is
known to exist from the effects produced by it, in the altered or new
condition of the thing on which it operates; which change would not have
been effected without it.

Causes are to be sought for by tracing back thro the effects which are
produced by them. The factory is put in operation, and the cloth is
manufactured. The careless observer would enter the building and see the
spindles, looms, and wheels operated by the hands, and go away satisfied
that he has seen enough, seen all. But the more careful will look
farther. He will trace each band and wheel, each cog and shaft, down by
the balance power, to the water race and floom; or thro the complicated
machinery of the steam engine to the piston, condenser, water, wood, and
fire; marking a new, more secret, and yet more efficient cause at each
advancing step. But all this curiously wrought machinery is not the
product of chance, operated without care. A superior cause must be
sought in human skill, in the deep and active ingenuity of man. Every
contrivance presupposes a contriver. Hence there must have been a power
and means sufficient to combine and regulate the power of the water, or
generate and direct the steam. That power is vested in man; and hence,
man stands as the cause, in relation to the whole process operated by
wheels, bands, spindles, and looms. Yet we may say, with propriety, that
the water, or the steam; the water-wheel, or the piston; the shafts,
bands, cogs, pullies, spindles, springs, treddles, harnesses, reeds,
shuttles, an almost endless concatenation of instruments, are alike the
_causes_, which tend to produce the final result; for let one of these
intermediate causes be removed, and the whole power will be diverted,
and all will go wrong--the effect will not be produced.

There must be a =first cause= to set in operation all inferior ones in
the production of action; and to that _first_ cause all action, nay, the
existence of all other causes, may be traced, directly, or more distant.
The intervening causes, in the consecutive order of things, may be as
diversified as the links in the chain of variant beings. Yet all these
causes are moved by the all-sufficient and ever present agency of the
Almighty Father, the =Uncaused Cause= of all things and beings; who
spoke into existence the universe with all its various and complicated
parts and orders; who set the sun, moon, and stars in the firmament,
gave the earth a place, and fixed the sea a bed; throwing around them
barriers over which they can never pass. From the height of his eternal
throne, his eye pervades all his works; from the tall archangel, that
"adores and burns," down to the very hairs of our heads, which are all
numbered, his wise, benevolent, and powerful supervision may be traced
in legible lines, which may be seen and read of all men. And from
effects, the most diminutive in character, may be traced back, from
cause to cause, upward in the ascending scale of being, to the same
unrivalled Source of all power, splendor, and perfection, the presence
of Him, who spake, and it was done; who commanded, and it _stood still_;
or, as the poet has it:

    "Look thro nature up to nature's God."

The _means_ of action are those aids which are displayed as the medium
thro which existing causes are to exhibit their hidden powers in
producing changes or effects. The matches in the pocket of Guy Fawkes
were the direct means by which he intended to set in operation a train
of causes which should terminate in the destruction of the house of
lords and all its inmates. Those matches, set on fire, would convey a
spark to the faggots, and thence to the powder, and means after means,
and cause after cause, in the rapid succession of events, would ensue,
tending to a final, inevitable, and melancholy result.

A ball shot from a cannon, receives its first impulse from the powder;
but it is borne thro the air by the aid of a principle inherent in
itself, which power is finally overcome by the density of the atmosphere
which impedes its progress, and the law of gravitation finally attracts
it to the earth. These contending principles may be known by observing
the curved line in which the ball moves from the cannon's mouth to the
spot where it rests. But if there is no power in the ball, why does not
the ball of cork discharged from the same gun with the same momentum,
travel to the same distance, at the same rate? The action commences in
both cases with the same projectile force, the same exterior _means_ are
employed, but the results are widely different. The cause of this
difference must be sought for in the comparative power of each substance
to _continue its own movements_.

Every boy who has played at ball has observed these principles. He
throws his ball, which, if not _counteracted_, will continue in a
straight line, _ad infinitum_--without end. But the air impedes its
progress, and gravitation brings it to the ground. When he throws it
against a hard substance, its velocity is not only overcome, but it is
sent back with great force. But if he takes a ball of wax, of snow, or
any strong adhesive substance, it will not bound. How shall we account
to him for this difference? He did the same with both balls. The impetus
given the one was as great as the other, and the resistance of the
intervening substance was as great in one case as the other; and yet,
one bounds and rebounds, while the other sticks fast as a friend, to the
first object it meets. The cause of this difference is to be sought for
in the different capabilities of the respective balls. One possesses a
strong elastic and repelling power; in the other, the attraction of
cohesion is predominant.

Take another example. Let two substances of equal size and form, the one
made of lead, the other of cork, be put upon the surface of a cistern of
water. The external circumstances are the same, but the effects are
widely different--one sinks, the other floats. We must look for the
cause of this difference, not in the opposite qualities of surrounding
matter, but in the things themselves. If you add to the cork another
quality possessed by the lead, and give it the same form, size, and
_weight_, it will as readily sink to the bottom. But this last property
is possessed in different degrees by the two bodies, and hence, while
the one floats upon the water, the other displaces its particles and
sinks to the bottom. You may take another substance; say the mountain
ebony, which is heavier than water, but lighter than lead, and immerse
it in the water; it will not sink with the rapidity of lead, because its
inherent _power_ is not so strong.

Take still another case. Let two balls, suspended on strings, be
equally, or, to use the technical term, _positively_ electrified. Bring
them within a certain distance, and they will repel each other. Let the
electric fluid be extracted from one, and the other will attract it.
Before, they were as enemies; now they embrace as friends. The magnet
furnishes the most striking proof in favor of the theory we are laboring
to establish. Let one of sufficient power be let down within the proper
distance, it will overcome the power of gravitation, and _attract_ the
heavy steel to itself. What is the cause of this wonderful fact? Who can
account for it? Who can trace out the hidden cause; the "_primum
mobile_" of the Ptolmaic philosophy--the secret spring of motion? But
who will dare deny that such effects do exist, and that they are
produced by an efficient cause? Or who will descend into the still more
dark and perplexing mazes of neuter verb grammars, and deny that matter
has such a power to act?

These instances will suffice to show you what we mean when we say,
_every thing acts according to the ability God has given it to act_. I
might go into a more minute examination of the properties of matter,
affinity, hardness, weight, size, color, form, mobility, &c., which even
old grammars will allow it to _possess_; but I shall leave that work
for you to perform at your leisure.

Whoever has any doubts remaining in reference to the abilities of all
things to _produce_, _continue_, or _prevent_ motion, will do well to
consult the prince of philosophers, Sir Isaac Newton, who, after
Gallileo, has treated largely upon the laws of motion. He asserts as a
fact, full in illustration of the principles I am laboring to establish,
that in ascending a hill, the trace rope pulls the horse back as much as
he draws that forward, only the horse overcomes the resistance of the
load, and moves it up the hill. On the old systems, no power would be
requisite to move the load, for it could oppose no resistance to the
horse; and the small child could move it with as much ease as the strong

Who has not an acquaintance sufficiently extensive to know these things?
I can not believe there is a person present, who does not fully
comprehend my meaning, and discover the correctness of the ground I have
assumed. And it should be borne in mind, that no collection or
arrangement of words can be composed into a sentence, which do not
obtain their meaning from a connection of things as they exist and
operate in the material and intellectual world, and that it is not in
the power of man to frame a sentence, to think or speak, but in
conformity with these general and exceptionless laws.

This important consideration meets us at every advancing step, as if to
admonish us to abandon the vain project of seeking a knowledge of
language without an acquaintance with the great principles on which it
depends. To look for the leading rules of speech in set forms of
expression, or in the capricious customs of any nation, however learned,
is as futile as to attempt to gain a knowledge of the world by shutting
ourselves up in a room, and looking at paintings and drawings which may
be furnished by those who know as little of it as we do. How fallacious
would be the attempt, how much worse than time thrown away, for the
parent to shut up his child in a lonely room, and undertake to impress
upon its mind a knowledge of man, beasts, birds, fish, insects, rivers,
mountains, fields, flowers, houses, cities, &c., with no other aid than
a few miserable pictures, unlike the reality, and in many respects
contradictory to each other. And yet that would be adopting a course
very similar to the one long employed as the only means of acquiring a
knowledge of language; limited to a set of arbitrary, false, and
contradictory rules, which the brightest geniuses could never
understand, nor the most erudite employ in the expression of ideas. The
grammars, it was thought, must be studied to acquire the use of
language, and yet they were forgotten before such knowledge was put in

       *       *       *       *       *

A simple remark on the principles of _relative_ action, and we will pass
to the consideration of _agents_ and _objects_, or the more immediate
_causes_ and _effects_ of action.

We go forth at the evening hour and look upon the sun _sinking_ beneath
the horizon; we mark the varying hues of light as they appear, and
change, and fade away. We see the shades of night _approaching_, with a
gradual pace, till the beautiful landscape on which we had been gazing,
the hills and the meadows; the farm house and the cultivated fields, the
grove, the orchard, and the garden; the tranquil lake and the babbling
brook; the dairy returning home, and the lambkins gambolling beside
their dams; all _recede_ from our view, and _appear_ to us no longer.
All this is _relative_ action. But so far as language and ideas are
concerned, it matters not whether the sun actually _sinks_ behind the
hills, or the hills interpose between it and us; whether the landscape
_recedes_ from our view, or the shades of night intercept so as to
obscure our vision. The habit of thought is the same, and the form of
expression must agree with it. We say the sun _rises_ and _sets_, in
reference to the obvious fact, without stopping to inquire whether it
really moves or not. Nor is such an inquiry at all necessary, as to
matter of fact, for all we mean by such expressions, is, that by some
process, immaterial to the case in hand, the sun stands in a new
relation to the earth, its altitude is elevated or depressed, and hence
the action is strictly relative. For we should remember that _rising_
and _setting_, _up_ and _down_, _above_ and _below_, in reference to the
earth, are only relative terms.

We speak and read of the _changes_ of the moon, and we correctly
understand each other. But in truth the moon changes no more at one time
than at another. The action is purely relative. One day we observe it
_before_ the sun, and the next _behind_ it, as we understand these
terms. The precise time of the change, when it will appear to us in a
different relation to the sun, is computed by astronomers, and set down
in our almanacs; but it changes no more at that time than at any other,
for like every thing else, it is _always changing_.

In a case we mentioned in a former lecture, "John _looks_ like or
_resembles_ his brother," we have an example of relative action. So in
the case of two men travelling the same way, starting together, but
advancing at different rates; one, we say, _falls_ behind the other. In
this manner of expression, we follow exactly the principles on which we
started, and suit our language to our ideas and habits of thinking. By
the law of optics things are reflected upon the retina of the eye
inversely, that is, upside down; but they are always seen in a proper
relation to each other, and if there is any thing wrong in the case, it
is overcome by early habit; and so our language accords with things as
they are manifested to our understandings.

These examples will serve to illustrate what we mean by relative action,
when applied to natural philosophy or the construction of language.

I had intended in this lecture to have treated of the agents and objects
of verbs, to prove, in accordance with the first and closest principles
of philosophy, that every "_cause_ must have an _effect_," or, in other
words, that every action must terminate on some object, either expressed
or necessarily understood; but I am admonished that I have occupied more
than my usual quota of time in this lecture already, and hence I shall
leave this work for our next.

I will conclude by the relation of an anecdote or two from the life of
that wonderful man, Gallileo Gallilei, who was many years professor of
mathematics at Padua. Possessed of a strong, reflecting mind, he had
early given his attention to the observation of things, their motions,
tendencies, and power of resistance, from which he ascended, step by
step, to the sublime science of astronomy. Being of an honest and frank,
as well as benevolent disposition, he shunned not to state and defend
theories at war with the then received opinions. All learning was, at
that time, in the hands or under the supervision of the ecclesiastics,
who were content to follow blindly the aristotelian philosophy, which,
in many respects, was not unlike that still embraced in our _neuter verb
systems_ of grammar. There was a sworn hostility against all
improvement, or innovation as it was called, in science as well as in
theology. The copernican system, to which Gallileo was inclined, if it
had not been formally condemned, had been virtually denounced as false,
and its advocates heretical. Hence Gallileo never dared openly to defend
it, but, piece by piece, under different names, he brought it forth,
which, carried out, would establish the heretical system. Dwelling as a
light in the midst of surrounding darkness, he cautiously discovered the
precious truths revealed to his mind, lest the flood of light should
distract and destroy the mental vision, break up the elements of
society, let loose the resistless powers of ignorance, prejudice and
bigotry, and envelope himself and friends in a common ruin. At length
having prepared in a very guarded manner his famous "Dialogues on the
Ptolmaic and Copernican Systems," he obtained permission, and ventured
to publish it to the world, altho an edict had been promulgated
enjoining silence on the subject, and he had been personally instructed
"_not to believe or teach the motion of the earth in any manner_."

By the false representation of his enemies, suspicions were aroused and
busily circulated prejudicial to Gallileo. Pope Urban himself, his
former friend, became exasperated towards him, and a sentence against
him and his books was fulminated by the Cardinals, prohibiting the "sale
and vending of the latter, and condemning him to the formal prison of
the Holy Office for a period determined at their pleasure." The sentence
of the Inquisition was in part couched in these words--"We pronounce,
judge, and declare, that you, the said Gallileo, by reason of these
things, which have been detailed in the course of this investigation,
and which, as above, you have confessed, have rendered yourself
vehemently suspected by this Holy Office, of heresy; that is to say,
that you believe and hold the false doctrine, and contrary to the Holy
and Divine Scriptures, namely, that the sun is the center of the world,
and that it does not _move_ from east to west, and that the earth does
_move_, and is not the center of the world; also, that an opinion _can
be held_ and _supported_ as _probable_, _after it has been_ declared,
and finally decreed contrary to the Holy Scriptures"--by the Holy See!!
"From which," they continue, "it is _our_ pleasure that you be absolved,
provided that, first, with a _sincere_ heart, and _unfeigned faith_, in
our presence, you _abjure_, _curse_, and _detest_ the said errors and
heresies, and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and
Apostolic Church of Rome, in the form now shown to you."

After suffering under this anathema some time, Gallileo, by the advice
of his friends, consented to make a public abjuration of his former
heresies on the laws of motion. Kneeling before the "Most Eminent and
Most Reverend Lords Cardinals, General Inquisitors of the universal
Christian republic, against _heretical depravity_, having before his
eyes the Holy Gospels," he swears that he always "_believed_, and now
_believes_, and with the help of God, _will in future believe_, every
article which the Holy Catholic Church of Rome holds, teaches, and
preaches"--that he does altogether "abandon the false opinion which
maintains that the 'sun is the center of the world, and that the earth
is _not_ the center and _movable_,' that with a sincere heart and
unfeigned faith, he abjures, curses, and detests the said errors and
heresies, and every other error and sect contrary to the said Holy
Church, and that he will never more in future, say or assert any thing
verbally, or in writing, which may give rise to similar suspicion." As
he arose from his knees, it is said, he whispered to a friend standing
near him, "_E pur si muove_"--=it does move, tho=.

In our times we are not fated to live under the terrors of the
Inquisition; but prejudice, if not as strong in power to execute, has
the ability to blind as truly as in other ages, and keep us from the
knowledge and adoption of practical improvements. And it is the same
philosophy now, which _asks_ if _inanimate matter can act_, which
_demanded_ of Gallileo if this ponderous globe could fly a thousand
miles in a minute, and no body feel the motion; and with Deacon
Homespun, in the dialogue, "why, if this world turned upside down, the
water did not spill from the mill ponds, and all the people fall
headlong to the bottomless pit?"

If there are any such peripatetics in these days of light and science,
who still cling to the false and degrading systems of neutrality,
because they are honorable for age, or sustained by learned and good
men, and who will oppose all improvement, reject without examination,
or, what is still worse, refuse to adopt, after being convinced of the
truth of it, any system, because it is novel, an innovation upon
established forms, I can only say of them, in the language of Micanzio,
the Venetian friend of Gallileo--"The efforts of such enemies to get
these principles prohibited, will occasion no loss either to your
reputation, or to the intelligent part of the world. As to posterity,
this is just one of the surest ways to hand them down to them. But what
a wretched set this must be, to whom every good thing, and _all that is
found in nature_, necessarily appears hostile and odious."



    A philosophical axiom.--Manner of expressing action.--Things taken
    for granted.--Simple facts must be known.--Must never deviate from
    the truth.--Every _cause_ will have an _effect_.--An example of an
    intransitive verb.--Objects expressed or implied.--All language
    eliptical.--Intransitive verbs examined.--I run.--I walk.--To
    step.--Birds fly.--It rains.--The fire burns.--The sun shines.--To
    smile.--Eat and drink.--Miscellaneous examples.--Evils of false
    teaching.--A change is demanded.--These principles apply
    universally.--Their importance.

We have made some general remarks on the power, cause, and means,
necessary in the production of action. We now approach nearer to the
application of these principles as observed in the immediate _agency_
and _effects_ which precede and follow action, and as connected with the

It is an axiom in philosophy which cannot be controverted, that every
_effect_ is the product of a prior _cause_, and that every _cause_ will
necessarily produce a corresponding _effect_. This fact has always
existed and will forever remain unchanged. It applies universally in
physical, mental, and moral science; to God or man; to angels or to
atoms; in time or thro eternity. No language can be constructed which
does not accord with it, for no ideas can be gained but by an observance
of its manifestations in the material or spiritual universe. The manner
of _expressing_ this cause and effect may differ in different nations or
by people of the same nation, but the fact remains unaltered, and so
far as understood the idea is the same. In the case of the horse
mentioned in a former lecture,[12] the idea was the same, but the manner
of expressing it different. Let that horse _walk_, _lay_ down, _roll_
over, _rise_ up, _shake_ himself, _rear_, or _stand_ still, all present
will observe the same attitude of the horse, and will form the same
ideas of his positions. Some will doubtless inquire more minutely into
the _cause_ and _means_ by which these various actions are produced,
what muscles are employed, what supports are rendered by the bones; and
the whole regulated by the will of the horse, and their conclusions may
be quite opposite. But this has nothing to do with the obvious fact
expressed by the words above; or, more properly, it is not necessary to
enter into a minute detail of these minor considerations, these secret
springs of motion, in order to relate the actions of the horse. For were
we to do this we should be required to go back, step by step, and find
the causes still more numerous, latent, and perplexing. The pursuit of
causes would lead us beyond the mere organization of the horse, his
muscular energy, and voluntary action; for gravitation has no small
service to perform in the accomplishment of these results; as well as
other principles. Let gravitation be removed, and how could the horse
_lay_ down? He could _roll_ over as well in the air as upon the ground.
But the particular notice of these things is unnecessary in the
construction of language to express the actions of the horse; for he
stands as the obvious _agent_ of the whole, and the _effects_ are seen
to follow--the _horse_ is laid down, _his body_ is rolled over, _the
fore part_ of it is _reared up_, _himself_ is shaken, and the whole
_feat_ is produced by the direction of his master.

Allow me to recal an idea we considered in a former lecture. I said no
action as such could be known distinct from the thing which acts; that
action as such is not perceptible, and that all things act, according to
the ability they possess. To illustrate this idea: Take a magnet and
lower it down over a piece of iron, till it attracts it to itself and
holds it suspended there. If you are not in possession of a magnet you
can make one at your pleasure, by the following process. Lay your knife
blade on a flat iron, or any hard, smooth surface; let another take the
old tongs or other iron which have stood erect for a considerable length
of time, and draw it upon the blade for a minute or more. A magnetic
power will be conveyed from the tongs to the blade sufficient to take up
a common needle. The tongs themselves may be manufactured into a most
perfect magnet. Now as the knife _holds_ the needle suspended beneath it
you perceive there must be an action, a power, and cause exerted beyond
our comprehension. Let the magnetic power be extracted from the blade,
and the needle will drop to the floor. A common unmagnetized blade will
not _raise_ and _hold_ a needle as this does. How those tongs come in
possession of such astonishing power; by what process it is there
retained; the power and means of transmission of a part of it to the
knife blade, and the reason of the phenomena you now behold--an
inanimate blade drawing to itself and there holding this needle
suspended--will probably long remain unknown to mortals. But that such
are the facts, incontestibly true, none will deny, for the evidence is
before us. Now fix your attention on that needle. There is an active and
_acting_ principle in that as well as in the magnetized blade; for the
blade will not attract a splinter of wood, of whalebone, or piece of
glass, tho equal in size and weight. It will have no operation on them.
Then it is by a sort of mutual affinity, a reciprocity of attachment,
between the blade and needle, that this phenomena is produced.

To apply this illustration you have only to reverse the case--turn the
knife and needle over--and see all things attracted to the earth by the
law of gravitation, a principle abiding in all matter. All that renders
the exhibition of the magnet curious or wonderful is that it is an
uncommon condition of things, an apparent counteraction of the regular
laws of nature. But we should know that the same sublime principle is
constantly operating thro out universal nature. Let that be suspended,
cease its active operations for a moment, and our own earth will be
decomposed into particles; the sun, moon and stars will dissolve and
mingle with the common dust; all creation will crumble into atoms, and
one vast ocean of darkness and chaos will fill the immensity of space.

Are you then prepared to deny the principles for which we are
contending? I think you will not; but accede the ground, that such being
the fact, true in nature, language, correctly explained, is only the
medium by which the ideas of these great truths, may be conveyed from
one mind to another, and must correspond therewith. If language is the
sign of ideas, and ideas are the impressions of things, it follows of
necessity, that no language can be employed unless it corresponds with
these natural laws, or first principles. The untutored child cannot talk
of these things, nor comprehend our meaning till clearly explained to
it. But some people act as tho they thought children must first acquire
a knowledge of words, and then begin to learn what such words mean.
This is putting the "cart before the horse."

Much, in this world, is to be taken for granted. We can not enter into
the minutiæ of all we would express, or have understood. We go upon the
ground that other people know something as well as we, and that they
will exercise that knowledge while listening to our relation of some new
and important facts. Hence it is said that "brevity is the soul of wit."
But suppose you should talk of surds, simple and quadratic equations,
diophantine problems, and logarithms, to a person who knows nothing of
proportion or relation, addition or subtraction. What would they know
about your words? You might as well give them a description in Arabic or
Esquimaux. They must first learn the simple rules on which the whole
science of mathematics depends, before they can comprehend a
dissertation on the more abstruse principles or distant results. So
children must learn to observe things as they are, in their simplest
manifestations, in order to understand the more secret and sublime
operations of nature. And our language should always be adapted to their
capacities; that is, it should agree with their advancement. You may
talk to a zealot in politics of religion, the qualities of forbearance,
candor, and veracity; to the enthusiast of science and philosophy; to
the bigot of liberality and improvement; to the miser of benevolence and
suffering; to the profligate of industry and frugality; to the
misanthrope of philanthropy and patriotism; to the degraded sinner of
virtue, truth, and heaven; but what do they know of your meaning? How
are they the wiser for your instruction? You have touched a cord which
does not vibrate thro their hearts, or, phrenologically, addressed an
organ they do not possess, except in a very moderate degree, at least.
Food must be seasoned to the palates of those who use it. Milk is for
babes and strong meat for men. Our instruction must be suited to the
capacities of those we would benefit, always elevated just far enough
above them to attract them along the upward course of improvement.

But it should be remembered that evils will only result from a deviation
from truth, and that we can never be justified in doing wrong because
others have, or for the sake of meeting them half way. And yet this very
course is adopted in teaching, and children are learned to adopt certain
technical rules in grammar, not because they are _true_, but because
they are _convenient_! In fact, it is said by some, that language is an
arbitrary affair altogether, and is only to be taught and learned
mechanically! But who would teach children that _seven times seven_ are
_fifty_, and _nine times nine_ a _hundred_, and assign as a reason for
so doing, that _fifty_ and a _hundred_ are more easily remembered than
_forty-nine_ and _eighty-one_? Yet there would be as much propriety in
adopting such a principle in mathematics, as in teaching for a rule of
grammar that when an objective case comes after a verb, it is active;
but when there is none expressed, it is intransitive or neuter.

The great fault is, grammarians do not allow themselves to _think_ on
the subject of language, or if they do, they only think intransitively,
that is, produce no _thoughts_ by their cogitations.

This brings us to a more direct consideration of the subject before us.
All admit the correctness of the axiom that every effect must have a
cause, and that every cause will have an effect. It is equally true that
"_like causes will produce like effects_," a rule from which nature
itself, and thought, and language, can never deviate. It is as plain as
that two things mutually equal to each other, are equal to a third. On
this immutable principle we base our theory of the activity of all
verbs, and contend that they must have an object after them, either
expressed or _necessarily understood_. We can not yield this position
till it is proved that _causes_ can operate without producing effects,
which can never be till the order of creation is reversed! There never
was, to our knowledge, such a thing as an intransitive action, with the
solitary exception of the burning bush.[13] In that case the laws of
nature were suspended, and no effects were produced; for the _bush
burned_, but there was nothing burnt; no consequences followed to the
bush; it was not consumed. The records of the past present no instance
of like character, where effects have failed to follow, direct or more
distantly, every cause which has been set in operation.

It makes no difference whether the object of the action is expressed or
not. It is the same in either case. But where it is not necessarily
implied from the nature and fitness of things, it must be expressed, and
but for such object or effect the action could not be understood. For
example, _I run_; but if there is no effect produced, _nothing_ run, how
can it be known whether I run or not. If I write, it is necessarily
understood that I write _something_--a _letter_, a _book_, a _piece_ of
poetry, a _communication_, or some other _writing_. When such object is
not liable to be mistaken, it would be superfluous to express it--it
would be a redundancy which should be avoided by all good writers and
speakers. All languages are, in this respect, more or less eliptical,
which constitutes no small share of their beauty, power, and elegance.

This elipsis may be observed not only in regard to the objects of
verbs, but in the omission of many nouns after adjectives, which thus
assume the character of nouns; as, the Almighty, the Eternal, the
Allwise, applied to God, understood. So we say the wise, the learned,
the good, the faithful, the wicked, the vile, the base, to which, if
nouns, it would sound rather harsh to apply plurals. So we say, take
your hat off ( ); put your gloves on ( ); lay your coat off ( ); and
pull your boots on ( ); presuming the person so addressed knows enough
to fill the elipsis, and not take his hat off his back, pull his gloves
on his feet, or his boots on his head.

In pursuing this subject farther, let us examine the sample words which
are called _intransitive_ verbs, because frequently used without the
object expressed after them; such as run, walk, step, fly, rain, snow,
burn, roll, shine, smiles, &c.

"_I run._"

That here is an action of the first kind, none will deny. But it is
contended by the old systems that there is no object on which the action
terminates. If that be true then there is _nothing_ run, no effect
produced, and the first law of nature is outraged, in the very onset;
for there is a _cause_, but no _effect_; an _action_, but no _object_.
How is the fact? Have you run nothing? conveyed nothing, moved nothing
from one place to another? no change, no effect, nothing moved? Look at
it and decide. It is said that a neuter or intransitive verb may be
known from the fact that it takes after it a preposition. Try it by this
rule. "A man run _against_ a post in a dark night, and broke his neck;"
that is, he run nothing against a post--no object to run--and yet he
broke his neck. Unfortunate man!

The fact in relation to this verb is briefly this: It is used to
express the action which more usually terminates on the actor, than on
any other object. This circumstance being generally known, it would be
superfluous to mention the object, except in cases where such is not the
fact. But whenever we desire to be definite, or when there is the least
liability to mistake the object, it is invariably expressed. Instances
of this kind are numerous. "They _ran_ the _boat_ ashore." "The captain
_ran_ his _men_ to rescue them from the enemy." "They _ran_ the
_gauntlet_." "They _run_ a _stage_ to Boston." "He _ran himself_ into
discredit." "One bank _runs_ another." "The man had a hard _run_ of it."
"_Run_ the _account_ over, and see if it is right." "They _run forty
looms_ and two thousand spindles." "He _runs_ his _mill_ evenings." Such
expressions are common and correct, because they convey ideas, and are

Two men were engaged in argument. The believer in intransitive verbs set
out to _run his opponent_ into an evident absurdity, and, contrary to
his expectation, he _ran himself_ into one. Leave out the objects of
this verb, run, and the sense is totally changed. He set out to _run_
into an _evident absurdity_, and he ran into one; that is, he did the
very absurd thing which he intended to do.[14]

"_I walk._"

The action expressed by this verb is very similar in character to the
former, but rather _slower_ in performance. Writers on health tell us
that _to walk_ is a very healthy exercise, and that it would be well for
men of sedentary habits _to walk_ several miles every day. But if there
is no action in walk, or if it has no _object_ necessarily _walked_, it
would be difficult to understand what good could result from it.

"Did you have a pleasant _walk_ this morning?" says a teacher to his
grammar class.

"We did have a very pleasant one. The flowers were _blooming_ on each
side of the _walk_, and _sent_ forth their sweetest aroma, _perfuming_
the soft breezes of the morning. Birds were _flitting from_ spray to
spray, _carolling_ their hymns of praise to Deity. The tranquil waters
of the lake lay _slumbering_ in silence, and _reflected_ the bright
_rays_ of the sun, _giving_ a sweet but solemn _aspect_ to the whole
scene. _To go_ thro the grove, down by the lake, and up thro the meadow,
is the most delightful _walk_ a person can take."

"How did you get your _walk_?"

"We walked it, to be sure; how did you think we got it?"

"Oh, I did not know. _Walk_, your books tell you, is an intransitive
verb, terminating on no object; so I supposed, if you followed them, you
obtained it some other way; by _riding_, _running_, _sailing_, or, may
be, _bought_ it, as you could not have _walked it_! Were you tired on
your return?"

"We were exceedingly fatigued, for you know it is a very long _walk_,
and we _walked it_ in an hour."

"But _what_ tired you? If there are no effects produced by walking, I
can not conceive why _you_ should be fatigued by such exercise."

Who does not perceive what flagrant violations of grammar rules are
committed every day, and every hour, and in almost every sentence that
is framed to express our knowledge of facts.

_To step._

This verb is the same in character with the two just noticed. It
expresses the act of _raising_ each foot alternately, and usually
implies that the body is, by that means, conveyed from one place to
another. But as people _step_ their _feet_ and not their hands, or any
thing else, it is entirely useless to mention the object; for generally,
that can not be mistaken any more than in the case of the gloves, boots,
and hat. But it would be bad philosophy to teach children that there is
no objective word after it, because it is not written out and placed
before their eyes. They will find such teaching contradicted at every
_step_ they take. Let a believer in intransitive verbs _step_ on a red
hot iron; he will soon find to his sorrow, that he was mistaken when he
thought that he could _step_ without stepping any thing. It would be
well for grammar, as well as many other things, to have more practice
and less theory. The thief was detected by his steps. Step softly; put
your feet down carefully.

_Birds fly._

We learned from our primers, that

    "The eagle's _flight_
    Is out of sight,"

How did the eagle succeed in producing a _flight_? I suppose he _flew_
it. And if birds ever fly, they must produce a flight. Such being the
fact, it is needless to supply the object. But the action does not
terminate solely on the flight produced, for that is only the name given
to the action itself. The expression conveys to the mind the obvious
fact, that, by strong muscular energy, by the aid of feathers, and the
atmosphere, the bird carries itself thro the air, and changes its being
from one place to another. As birds rarely fly a race, or any thing but
_themselves_ and a _flight_, it is not necessary to suffix the object.

_It rains._

This verb is insisted on as the strongest proof of intransitive action;
with what propriety, we will now inquire. It will serve as a clear
elucidation of the whole theory of intransitive verbs.

What does the expression signify? It simply declares the fact, that
_water is shed_ down from the clouds. But is there no object after
_rains_? There is none expressed. Is there nothing rained? no effect
produced? If not, there can be no water fallen, and our cisterns would
be as empty, our streams as low, and fields as parched, after a rain as
before it! But who that has common sense, and has never been blinded by
the false rules of grammar, does not know that when _it rains_, it never
fails to _rain rain_, _water_, or _rain-water_, unless you have one of
the paddy's dry rains? When it hails, it hails _hail_, _hail-stones_, or
frozen _rain_. When it snows, it _snows snow_, sometimes two feet of it,
sometimes less. I should think teachers in our northern countries would
find it exceeding difficult to convince their readers that snow is an
intransitive verb--that it snows _nothing_. And yet so it is; people
will remain wedded to their old systems, and refuse to open their eyes
and behold the evidences every where around them. Teachers themselves,
the guides of the young--and I blush to say it, for I was long among the
number--have, with their scholars, labored all the morning, breaking
roads, _shovelling snow_, and clearing paths, to get to the
school-house, and then set down and taught them that _to snow_ is an
_in_transitive verb. What nonsense; nay, worse, what falsehoods have
been instilled into the youthful mind in the name of grammar! Can we be
surprised that people have not understood grammar? that it is a dry,
cold, and lifeless business?

I once lectured in Poughkeepsie, N. Y. In a conversation with Miss B., a
distinguished scholar, who had taught a popular female school for twenty
years; was remarking upon the subject of intransitive verbs, and the
apparent inconsistency of the new system, that all verbs must have an
object after them, expressed or understood; she said, "there was the
verb _rain_, (it happened to be a rainy day,) the whole action is
confined to the agent; it does not pass on to another object; it is
purely intransitive." Her aged mother, who had never looked into a
grammar book, heard the conversation, and very bluntly remarked, "Why,
you fool you, I want to know if you have studied grammar these thirty
years, and taught it more than twenty, and have never _larned_ that when
it rains it _always_ rains _rain_? If it didn't, do you s'pose you'd
need an umbrella to go out now into the storm? I should think you'd know
better. I always told you these plaguy grammars were good for nothing, I
didn't b'lieve." "Amen," said I, to the good sense of the old lady, "you
are right, and have reason to be thankful that you have never been
initiated into the intricate windings, nor been perplexed with the false
and contradictory rules, which have blasted many bright geniuses in
their earliest attempts to gain a true knowledge of the sublime
principles of language, on which depends so much of the happiness of
human life." The good matron's remark was a poser to the daughter, but
it served as a means of her entire deliverance from the thraldom of
neuter verbs, and the adoption of the new principles of the exposition
of language.

The anecdote shows us how the unsophisticated mind will observe facts,
and employ words as correctly, if not more so, than those schooled in
the high pretensions of science, falsely taught. Who does not know from
the commonest experience, that the direct object of _raining_ must
follow as the necessary sequence? that it can never fail? And yet our
philologists tell us that such is not always the case; and that the
exception is to be marked on the singular ground, whether the word is
written out or omitted! What a narrow view of the sublime laws of
motion! What a limited knowledge of things! or else, what a _mistake_!

"Then the Lord said unto Moses, behold, I will _rain_ bread for you from

"Then the _Lord rained_ down, upon Sodom and Gomorrah, _brimstone_ and
_fire_, from the Lord out of heaven."--_Bible._

_The fire burns._

The fire _burns_ the wood, the coal, or the peat. The great fire in
New-York _burned_ the buildings which covered fifty-two acres of ground.
Mr. Experiment _burns_ coal in preference to wood. His new grate _burns
it_ very finely. Red ash coal _burns_ the best; it _makes_ the fewest
_ashes_, and hence _is_ the most convenient. The cook _burns_ too much
fuel. The house took fire and _burned_ up. _Burned what_ up? Burn is an
intransitive verb. It would not trouble the unfortunate tenant to know
that there must be an _object burned_, or what _it_ was. He would find
it far more difficult to rebuild his _house_. Do you suppose fires never
burn any thing belonging to neuter verb folks? Then they never need pay
away insurance money. With the solitary exception I have mentioned--the
burning bush--this verb can not be intransitive.

_The sun shines._

This is an intransitive verb if there ever was one, because the object
is not often expressed after it. But if the sun _emits_ no _rays_ of
light, how shall it be known whether it shines or not? "The _radiance_
of the sun's bright beaming" is produced by the _exhibition_ of
_itself_, when it _brightens_ the objects exposed to its _rays_ or
_radiance_. We talk of _sun shine_ and moon shine, but if these bodies
never produce _effects_ how shall it be known whether such things are
real? _Sun shine_ is the direct effect of the sun's _shining_. But
clouds sometimes intervene and prevent the rays from extending to the
earth; but _then_ we do not say "the sun _shines_." You see at once,
that all we know or can know of the fact we state as truth, is derived
from a knowledge of the very _effects_ which our grammars tell us do not
exist. Strange logic indeed! It is a mark of a wiser man, and a better
scholar, not to know the popular grammars, than it is to profess any
degree of proficiency in them!

_To smile._

The _smiles_ of the morning, the _smiles_ of affection, a _smile_ of
kindness, are only produced by the appearance of something that _smiles_
upon us. _Smiles_ are the direct consequence of _smiling_. If a person
should _smile_ ever so _sweetly_ and yet present no _smiles_, they
might, for aught we could know to the contrary, be _sour_ as vinegar.

But this verb frequently has another object after it; as, "to _smile_
the _wrinkles_ from the brow of age," or "_smile_ dull _cares_ away." "A
sensible wife would soon _reason_ and _smile him_ into good nature."

But I need not multiply examples. When such men as Johnson, Walker,
Webster, Murray, Lowthe, and a host of other wise and renowned men,
gravely tell us that _eat_ and _drink_, which they define, "to _take
food_; _to feed_; _to take a meal_; _to go to meals_; to be maintained
in food; _to swallow liquors_; _to quench thirst_; to take any liquid;"
are _intransitive_ or _neuter_ verbs, having no objects after them, we
must think them insincere, egregiously mistaken, or else possessed of a
means of subsistence different from people generally! Did they _eat_ and
_drink_, "take food and swallow liquors," _in_transitively; that is,
without _eating_ or _drinking_ any thing? Is it possible in the nature
of things? Who does not see the absurdity? And yet they were _great_
men, and nobody has a right to question such _high_ authority. And the
"_simplifiers_" who have come after, making books and teaching grammar
to _earn_ their _bread_, have followed close in their footsteps, and, I
suppose, _eaten_ nothing, and thrown their bread away! Was I a believer
in neuter verbs and desired to get money, my first step would be to set
up a boarding house for all believers in, and _practisers_ of,
intransitive verbs. I would board cheap and give good fare. I could
afford it, for no provisions would be consumed.

Some over cautious minds, who are always second, if not last, in a good
cause, ask us why these principles, if so true and clear, were not found
out before? Why have not the learned who have studied for many
centuries, never seen and adopted them? It is a sufficient answer to
such a question, to ask why the copernican system of astronomy was not
sooner adopted, why the principles of chemistry, the circulation of the
blood, the power and application of steam, nay, why all improvement was
not known before. When grammar and dictionary makers, those wise
expounders of the principles of speech, have so far forgotten facts as
to teach that _eat_ and _drink_, "express neither action nor passion,"
or are "confined to the agents;" that when a man eats, he eats nothing,
or when he drinks, he drinks nothing, we need not stop long to decide
why these things were unknown before. The wisest may sometimes mistake;
and the proud aspirant for success, frequently passes over, unobserved,
the humble means on which all true success depends.

Allow me to quote some miscellaneous examples which will serve to show
more clearly the importance of supplying the elipses, in order to
comprehend the meaning of the writers, or profit by their remarks. You
will supply the objects correctly from the attendant circumstances where
they are not expressed.

"Ask ( ) and ye shall receive ( ); seek ( ) and ye shall find ( ); knock
( ) and _it_ shall be opened unto you."

Ask _what_? Seek _what_? Knock _what_? That _it_ may be opened? Our
"Grammars Made Easy" would teach us to _ask_ and _seek_ nothing! no
objectives after them. What then could we reasonably expect to _receive_
or _find_? The _thing_ we _asked_ for, of course, and that was nothing!
Well might the language apply to such, "Ye ask ( ) and _receive not_
(naught) because ye ask ( ) amiss." False teaching is as pernicious to
religion and morals as to science.

"Charge them that are rich in this world--that they _do good_, that they
be rich in good works, ready to _distribute_ ( ), willing to
_communicate_ ( )."--_Paul to Timothy._

The hearer is to observe that there is no object after these
words--_nothing_ distributed, or communicated! There is too much such
charity in the world.

"He spoke ( ), and _it_ was done; he commanded ( ), and _it_ stood

"_Bless_ ( ), and _curse_ ( ) not."--_Bible._

"_Strike_ ( ) while the iron is hot."--_Proverb._

"I _came_ ( ), I _saw_ ( ), I _conquered_ ( )."--_Cæsar's Letter._

He lives ( ) contented and happy.

"The _life_ that I now _live_, in the flesh, I _live_ by the faith of
the son of God."--_Paul._

"Let me _die_ the _death_ of the righteous, and let my last _end be_
like his."--_Numbers._

As bodily exercise particularly strengthens ( ), as it invites ( ) to
sleep ( ), and secures ( ) against great disorders, it is to be
generally encouraged. Gymnastic exercises may be established for all
ages and for all classes. The Jews were ordered to _take a walk_ out of
the city on the Sabbath day; and here rich and poor, young and old,
master and slave, met ( ) and indulged ( ) in innocent mirth or in the
pleasures of friendly intercourse.--_Spurzheim on Education._

"Men will wrangle ( ) for religion; write ( ) for it; fight ( ) for it;
die ( ) for it; any thing but live ( ) for it."--_Lacon._

"I have addressed this volume to those that think ( ), and some may
accuse me of an ostentatious independence, in presuming ( ) to inscribe
a book to so small a minority. But a volume addressed to those that
think ( ) is in fact addressed to all the world; for altho the
proportion of those who _do_ ( ) think ( ) be extremely small, yet every
individual _flatters himself_ that he is one of the number."--_Idem._

What is the difference whether a man _thinks_ or not, if he produces no

"He that _thinks himself_ the happiest man, really is so; but he that
_thinks himself_ the wisest, is generally the greatest fool."--_Idem._

"A man _has_ many _workmen employed_; some to plough ( ) and sow ( ),
others to chop ( ) and split ( ); some to mow ( ) and reap ( ); one to
score ( ) and hew ( ); two to frame ( ) and raise ( ). In his factory he
has persons to card ( ), spin ( ), reel ( ), spool ( ), warp ( ), and
weave ( ), and a clerk to deliver ( ) and charge ( ), to receive ( ) and
pay ( ). They eat ( ), and drink ( ), heartily, three times a day; and
as they work ( ) hard, and feel ( ) tired at night, they lay ( ) down,
sleep ( ) soundly, and dream ( ) pleasantly; they rise ( ) up early to
go ( ) to work ( ) again. In the morning the children wash ( ) and dress
( ) and prepare ( ) to go ( ) to school, to learn ( ) to read ( ), write
( ), and cipher ( )." All neuter or intransitive verbs!!

"The celebrated horse, Corydon, will perform ( ) on Tuesday evening in
the circus. He will leap ( ) over four bars, separately, in imitation of
the english hunter. He will lie ( ) down, and rise ( ) up instantly at
the _word of command_. He will move ( ) backwards and sideways, rear ( )
and stand ( ) on his hind feet; he will sit ( ) down, like a Turk, on a
cushion. To conclude ( ), he will leap ( ), in a surprising manner, over
two horses."--_Cardell's Grammar._

The gymnastic is not a mountebank; he palms off no legerdemain upon the
public. He will stretch a line across the room, several feet from the
floor, over which he will leap ( ) with surprising dexterity. He will
stand ( ) on his head, balance, ( ) on one foot, and swing ( ) from side
to side of the room; lay ( ) crosswise, and sideways; spring ( ) upon
his feet; bound ( ) upon the floor; dance ( ) and keel ( ) over with out
touching his hands. He will sing ( ), play ( ), and mimic ( ); look ( )
like a king, and act ( ) like a fool. He will laugh ( ) and cry ( ), as
if real; roar ( ) like a lion, and chirp ( ) like a bird. To conclude
( ): He will do all this to an audience of neuter grammarians, without
either "_action_ or _passion_," all the while having a "_state of
being_," motionless, in the center of the room!!

What a lie! say you. _A lie?_ I hope you do not accuse _me_ of lying. If
there is any thing false in this matter it all _lies_ in the quotation,
at the conclusion, from the standard grammar. If that is false, whose
fault is it? Not mine, certainly. But what if I should _lie_ ( ),
intransitively? I should tell no falsehoods.

But enough of this. If there is any thing irrational or inconsistent,
any thing false or ridiculous, in this view of the subject, it should be
remembered that it has been long taught, not only in common schools, but
in our academies and colleges, as serious, practical truth; as the only
means of acquiring a correct knowledge of language, or fitting ourselves
for usefulness or respectability in society. You smile at such trash,
and well you may; but you must bear in mind that grammar is not the only
thing in which we may turn round and _laugh_ ( ) at past follies.

But I am disposed to consider this matter of more serious consequence
than to deserve our _laughter_. When I see the rising generation spend
months and years of the best and most important part of their lives,
which should be devoted to the acquisition of that which is true and
useful, studying the dark and false theory of language as usually
taught, I am far from feeling any desire to laugh at the folly which
imposes such a task upon them. I remember too distinctly the years that
have just gone by. I have seen too many blighted hopes, too many
wearisome hours, too many sad countenances, too many broken resolutions;
to say nothing of corporeal chastisements; to think it a small matter
that children are erroneously taught the rudiments of language, because
sanctioned by age, or great names. A change, an important change, a
radical change, in this department of education, is imperiously
demanded, and teachers must obey the call, and effect the change. There
is a spirit abroad in the land which will not bow tamely and without
complaint, to the unwarranted dictation of arbitrary, false, and
contradictory rules, merely from respect to age. It demands reason,
consistency and plainness; and yields assent only where they are found.
And teachers, if they will not lead in the reformation, must be
satisfied to follow after; for a reformation is loudly called for, and
will be had. None are satisfied with existing grammars, which, in
principle, are nearly alike. The seventy-three attempts to improve and
simplify Murray, have only acted _intransitively_, and accomplished very
little, if any good, save the employment given to printers, paper
makers, and booksellers.

But I will not enlarge. We have little occasion to wonder at the errors
and mistakes of grammar makers, when our lexicographers tell us for
sober truth, that =to act=, _to be in action_, _not to rest_, to be in
_motion_, to _move_, is _v. n._ a verb neuter, signifying _no action_!!
or _v. i._ verb intransitive, producing _no effects_; and that a
"_neuter verb_ =expresses= (active transitive verb) _a state of being_!!
There are few minds capable of adopting such premises, and drawing
therefrom conclusions which are rational or consistent. Truth is rarely
elicted from error, beauty from deformity, or order from confusion.
While, therefore, we allow the neuter systems to sink into
forgetfulness, as they usually do as soon as we leave school and shut
our books, let us throw the mantle of charity over those who have
thoughtlessly (without _thinking thoughts_) and innocently lead us many
months in dark and doleful wanderings, in paths of error and
contradiction, mistaken for the road to knowledge and usefulness. But
let us resolve to save ourselves and future generations from following
the same unpleasant and unprofitable course, and endeavor to _reflect_
the _light_ which may _shine_ upon our minds, to dispel the surrounding
darkness, and secure the light and knowledge of truth to those who shall
come after us.

Many philologists have undertaken to explain our language by the aid of
foreign tongues. Because there are genitive cases, different kinds of
verbs, six tenses, etc. in the Latin or Greek, the same distinctions
should exist in our grammars. But this argument will not apply,
admitting that other languages will not allow of the plan of exposition
we have adopted, which we very seriously question, tho we have not time
to go into that investigation. We believe that the principles we have
adopted are capable of universal application; that what is action in
England would be action in Greece, Rome, Turkey, and every where else;
that "_like causes will produce like effects_" all the world over. It
matters not by whom the action is seen, it is the same, and all who
gather ideas therefrom will describe it as it appears to them, let them
speak what language they may. But if they have no ideas to express, they
need no language to speak. Monkeys, for aught I know to the contrary,
can speak as well as we; but the reason they do not, is because they
have nothing to say.

Let Maelzael's automaton chess-player be exhibited to a promiscuous
multitude. They would all attempt a description of it, so far as they
were able to gain a knowledge of its construction, each in his own
language. Some might be unable to trace the _cause_, the moving _power_,
thro all the curiously arranged _means_, to the _agent_ who acted as
prime mover to the whole affair. Others, less cautious in their
conclusions, might think it a perpetual motion. Such would find a _first
cause_ short of the Creator, the great original of all things and
actions; and thus violate the soundest principles of philosophy. Heaven
has never left a vacuum where a new and _self_ sustaining power may be
set in operation independent of his ever-present supervision; and hence
the long talked of _perpetual motion_ is the vainest chimera which ever
occupied the human brain. It may well appear as the opposite extreme of
neuter verbs; for, while one would give no action to matter according to
the physical laws which regulate the world, the other would make matter
act of itself, independent of the Almighty. Be it ours to take a more
rational and consistent stand; to view all things and beings as
occupying a place duly prescribed by Infinite Wisdom, _acting_ according
to their several abilities, and subject to the regulation of the
all-pervading laws which guide, preserve, and harmonize the whole.

If there is a subject which teaches us beyond controversy the existence
of a Supreme Power, a Universal Father, an all-wise and ever-present
God, it is found in the order and harmony of all things, produced by the
regulation of Divine laws; and man's superiority to the rest of the
world is most clearly proved, from the possession of a power to adapt
language to the communication of ideas in free and social converse, or
in the transmission of thought, drawn from an observation and knowledge
of things as presented to his understanding.

There is no science so directly important to the growth of intellect
and the future happiness of the child, as the knowledge of language.
Without it, what is life? Wherein would man be elevated above the brute?
And what is language without ideas? A sound without harmony--a shadow
without a substance.

Let language be taught on the principles of true philosophy, as a
science, instead of an arbitrary, mechanical business, a mere art, and
you will no longer hear the complaint of a "_dry_, _cold_, uninteresting
study." Its rules will be simple, plain, and easy; and at every step the
child will increase in the knowledge of more than _words_, in an
acquaintance with principles of natural and moral science. And if there
is any thing that will carry the mind of the child above the low and
grovelling things of earth, and fill the soul with reverence and
devotion to the Holy Being who fills immensity with his presence, it is
when, from observing the laws which govern matter, he passes to observe
the powers and capabilities of the mind, and thence ascends to the
Intellectual Source of _light_, _life_, and _being_, and contemplates
the perennial and ecstatic joys which flow from the presence of Deity;
soul mingling with soul, love absorbed in love, and God all in all.



    The verb =to be=.--Compounded of different radical words.--=Am=.
    --Defined.--The name of Deity.--_Ei_.--=Is=.--=Are=.--=Were=,
    =was=.--=Be=.--A dialogue.--Examples.--Passive Verbs examined.--
    Cannot be in the present tense.--The past participle is an

We have gone through the examination of _neuter_ and _intransitive_
verbs, with the exception of the verb =to be=, which we propose to
notice in this place. Much more might be said on the subjects I have
discussed, and many more examples given to illustrate the nature and
operation of actions as expressed by verbs, and also in reference to the
_objects_ of action; but I trust the hints I have given will be
satisfactory. I am confident, if you will allow your minds to _think_
correct _thoughts_, and not _suffer_ them _to be_ misled by erroneous
teaching, you will arrive at the same conclusion that I have, viz. that
all verbs depend on a _common principle_ for their explanation; that
they are alike active, and necessarily take an object after them, either
expressed or understood, in accordance with the immutable law of nature,
which teaches that like causes will produce like effects.

       *       *       *       *       *

The verb =to be=, as it is called, is conjugated by the aid of six
different words, in its various modes and tenses; _am_, _is_, _are_,
_was_, _were_, _be_. _Am_ is unchanged, always in the indicative mood,
present tense, agreeing with the _first_ person singular. _Is_ is also
unchanged, in the same mood and tense, agreeing with the _third_ person
singular. _Art_, in the singular, is the same as _are_ in the plural.
_Was_ and _wast_, are the same as _were_ and _wert_ in meaning, being
derived from the same etymon. _Be_, _being_, and _been_, are changes of
the same word. _Be_ was formerly extensively used in the indicative
present, but in that condition it is nearly obsolete. _Were_ was also
used in the singular as well as plural, especially when coming before
the agent; as, "were I to go, I would do your business." But it is now
more common to have _was_ correctly used in that case. But, as one
extreme often follows another, people have laid _were_ quite too much
aside, and often crowd _was_ into its place in common conversation; as
"we _was_ (were) there yesterday." "There _was_ (were) five or six men
engaged in the business." This error appears to be gaining ground, and
should be checked before it goes farther.

The combination of these different words was produced by habit, to avoid
the monotony which the frequent recurrence of one word, so necessary in
the expression of thought, would occasion: the same as the past tense of
_go_ is made by the substitution of another word radically different,
_went_, the past tense of _wend_ or _wind_. "O'er hills and dales they
_wend_ their way." "The lowing herd _wind_ slowly o'er the lea." _Go_
and _wend_ convey to our minds nearly the same ideas. The latter is a
little more poetical, because less used. But originally their
signification was quite different. So with the parts of the verb =to
be=. They were consolidated as a matter of convenience, and now appear
in their respective positions to express the idea of being, life, or

I have said this verb expresses the highest degree of action. I will
now attempt to prove it. I should like to go into a labored and critical
examination of the words, and trace their changes thro various
languages, was it in accordance with the design of these lectures. But
as it is not, I shall content myself with general observations.

_I am._

This word is not defined in our dictionaries. It is only said to be
"_the first person of to be_." We must look for its meaning some where
else. It is a compound of two ancient words, _ah_, _breath_, to
_breathe_, life, to _live_, _light_, to _light_; and _ma_, the _hand_,
or to _hand_. It signifies to _vivify_, _sustain_, or _support_ one's
self in being or existence. In process of time, like other things in
this mutable world, its form was changed, but the meaning retained. But
as one person could not _vivify_ or _live_ another, _inflate_ another's
lungs, or breathe another's breath, it became restricted to the first
person. It means, I _breathe breath_, _vivify myself_, _live life_, or
_exercise_ the power of _being_ or _living_. It conveys this fact in
every instance, for no person incapable of breathing can say _I am_. Let
any person pronounce the word _ah-ma_, and they will at once perceive
the appropriateness of the meaning here given. It is very similar to the
letter _h_, and the pronoun, (originally _noun_,) _he_, or the "_rough
breathing_" in the Greek language. _Ma_ is compounded with many words
which express action done by the hand; as, _ma_nufacture, _ma_numit. It
denoted any action or work done by the hand as the instrument; but, like
other words, it gradually changed its import, so as to express any
_effective_ operation. Hence the union of the words was natural and
easy, and _ahma_ denoted _breathing_, _to live_ or sustain life. _H_ is
a precarious letter in all languages that use it, as the pronunciation
of it by many who speak the English language, will prove. It was long
ago dropt, in this word, and after it the last _a_, so that we now have
the plain word _am_.

It was formerly used as a noun in our language, and as such may be found
in Exodus 3: 13, 14. "And Moses said unto God, Behold when I come unto
the children of Israel and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers
sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his _name_? what
shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I =am= the I AM; and he
said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me
unto you." Chap. 6: 3.--"I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto
Jacob, by the name of God Almighty; but by my name =Jehovah= (I AM) was
I not known unto them." The word _Jehovah_ is the same as _am_. It is
the name of the _self-existent_, _self-sustaining_ =Being=, who has not
only power to uphold all things, but to perform the still more sublime
action of _upholding_ or _sustaining himself_. This is the highest
possible degree of action. Let this fail, and all creation will be a
wreck. He is the _ever-living_, _uncontrolled_, _unfailing_,
_unassisted_, and _never-changing_ God, the Creator, Preserver, Alpha
and Omega, the Beginning and End of all things. He is the _First Cause_
of all causes, the _Agent_, original moving Power, and guiding Wisdom,
which set in motion the wheels of universal nature, and guides and
governs them without "variableness or the shadow of turning."

    "I AM the first, and I, the last,
      Thro endless years the same;
    I AM is my memorial still,
      And my eternal name."
                              _Watts' Hymn._

Ask the Jews the meaning of this _neuter verb_ in their language. They
hold it in the most profound and superstitious reverence. After the
captivity of their nation they never dared pronounce the name except
once a year when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies, and hence
the true pronunciation of it was lost. Unto this day they dare not
attempt to utter it. In all their writings it remains in characters
untranslated. When their Messiah comes they expect he will restore the
pronunciation, and by it they shall be able to accomplish all

According to Plutarch the Greeks had the letters EI, =thou art=,
engraven on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, which is the second person
of =Eimi=, _I am_.[16]

This motto was doubtless borrowed from the Jews, to whom it was given as
the name of the God of Jacob. The same name you may see engraven on
monuments, on pictures of the bible, on masonic implements, and in
various places, untranslated.

Who can suppose that this word "expresses no action," when the very
person incapable of it can not utter it, and no one else can speak it
for him? It denotes the highest conceivable action applied to Deity or
to man, and it is questionable philosophy which dares contradict this
fact. The action expressed by it, is not changed, because it does not
terminate on a foreign object. It remains the same. It is self-action.

_He is._

This word is constructed from an old verb signifying _to stand forth_,
_to appear_, _to show one's self_, and may be traced, I think, to the
latin _eo_, _to go_, and _exist_, to _exeo_, _to go from_; that is, our
_being_ or _existence_, _came_ or _stood forth_ from God. It is
certainly a contraction from the old english _to exist_. _Ist_ is the
spelling still retained in the german and some other languages. It
denotes self-action. One man does not _exist_ another, but himself. He
_keeps himself_ in existence.

_We are_, _thou are-est_, _arst_, or _art_.

Be not surprised when I tell you this is the same word as _air_, for
such is the fact. It signifies to inhale air, to _air ourselves_, or
_breathe air_. "God _breathed_ into man the _breath of life_, and man
became a _living soul_." The new born infant _inhales air_, _inflates
its lungs_ with _air_, and begins to live. We all know how essential
_air_ is to the preservation of life. No animal can live an instant
without it. Drop a squirrel into a receiver from which all _air_ has
been extracted, and it can not live. Even vegetables will die where
there is no air. _Light_ is also indispensable to _life_ and _health_.
_Air_ is _inhaled_ and _exhaled_, and from it life receives support. The
fact being common, it is not so distinctly observed by the careless, as
tho it was more rare. But did you never see the man dying of a
consumption, when the pulmonary or breathing organs were nearly decayed?
How he labors for breath! He asks to have the windows thrown open. At
length he _suffocates_ and dies. Most persons struggle hard for
_breath_ in the hour of dissolving nature. The heaving bosom, the hollow
gasp for _air_, tells us that the lamp of life is soon to be
extinguished, that the hour of their departure has come.

When a person faints, we carry them into the _air_, or blow _air_ upon
them, that nature may be restored to its regular course. In certain
cases physicians find it necessary to force air into the lungs of
infants; they can after that _air_, themselves, _imbibe_ or _drink in
air_, or _inspirit_ themselves with air. But I need not enlarge. Whoever
has been deprived of air and labored hard for breath in a stifled or
unwholesome air, can appreciate what we mean.

_We were_; _he was_.

I have said before that these words are the same, and are used in
certain cases irrespective of number. I have good authority for this
opinion, altho some etymologists give them different derivations.

_Were_, _wert_; _worth_, _werth_; _word_ and _werde_, are derived from
the same etymon and retain a similarity of meaning. They signify
_spirit_, _life_, _energy_. "In the beginning was the _word_, and the
_word_ was with God." "By the _word_ of his grace."

"_They were_," they _inspirited_ themselves, _possessed_ the life,
vitality, or _spirit_, the Creator gave them, and having that spirit,
life, or energy, under proper regulation, in due degree, they were
_worthy_ of the esteem, regard, sympathy, and good _word_ of others.

_To be._

This is considered the root of all the words we have considered, and to
it all others are referred for a definition. Dictionaries give no
definition to _am_, _is_, _are_, _was_, and _were_, all of them as truly
principal verbs as _be_, and possessed of as distinct a meaning. It can
hardly be possible that they should form so important a part of our
language, and yet be incapable of definition. But such is the fact, the
most significant words in our language, and those most frequently used,
are undefined in the books.

Mr. Webster says =to be= signifies, "to exist, to _have_ a real _state_
or _existence_," and so say Walker and Johnson. Now if it is possible to
"=have= _a state of being_ without action or passion," then may this
word express neutrality. But the very definition requires activity, and
an object expressed. It denotes the _act of being_, or living; to
_exercise_ the powers of life, to _maintain_ a position or rank in the
scale of existent things.

The name of the action is _being_, and applies to the Almighty BEING who
_exists_ unchanged as the source of all inferior _beings_ and things,
whose name is _Jehovah_, I AM, the Being of beings, the Fountain of
_light_, _life_, and _wisdom_.

_Be_ is used in the imperative and infinitive moods correctly, by every
body who employs language. "_Be_ here in ten minutes." "_Be it_ far from
thee." "I will _be_ in Boston before noon." If there is any action in
going from Providence to Boston at rail-road speed, in two hours, or
before noon, it is all expressed by the verb _be_, which we are told
expresses _no action_.

The teacher says to his scholars when out at play, "I want you _to be_
in your seats in five minutes." What would they understand him to mean?
that they should stand still? or that they should _change their state of
being_ from play in the yard, to a state of being in their seats? There
is no word to denote such change, except the word _to be_. _Be_ off,
_be_ gone, _be_ here, _be_ there, are commands frequently given and
correctly understood.

The master says to a bright little lad, who has well learned his
grammar, "_Be_ here in a minute."

"Yes, sir, I will _be_ there;" but he does not move.

"_Be_ here immediately."

"Yes, yes, I will _be_ there."

"Don't you understand me? I say, _be_ here instantly."

"Oh, yes, I understand you and will obey."

The good man is enraged. "You scoundrel," says he, "do you mean to
disobey my orders and insult me?"

"Insult you and disobey you; I have done neither," replies the honest

"Yes you have, and I will chastise you severely for it."

"No, master, I have not; I declare, I have not. I have obeyed you as
well as I know how, to the very letter and spirit of your command."

"Didn't I tell you _to be_ here in a minute, and have not you _remained_
where you were? and didn't you say you would _be_ here?"

"Yes, sir; and did not I do just what you told me to?"

"Why, no, you blockhead; I told you _to be_ here."

"Well, I told you I would _be_ there."

"You _was_ not here."

"Nor did you expect I would _be_, if you have taught me to _speak_,
_write_, and understand correctly."

"What do you mean, you saucy boy?"

"I mean to mind my master, and do what he tells me to."

"Why didn't you do so then?"

"I did."

"You didn't."

"I did."

"You lie, you insult me, you contradict me, you saucy fellow. You are
not fit to be in school. I will punish you severely." And in a passion
he starts for his ferrule, takes the boys hand, and bruises him badly;
the honest little fellow all the while pleading innocence of any
intended wrong.

In a short time they commence _parsing_ this sentence: "It is necessary
_to be_ very particular in ascertaining the meaning of words before we
use them." The master puts _to be_ to the same boy. He says it is an
_active verb_, infinitive mood.

"How is that? an _active_ verb?"

"Yes, sir."

"No, it is not. It is a _neuter_ verb."

"Begging your pardon, master, it is not. It is active."

"Have I got to punish you again so soon, you impudent fellow. You are
not fit to be in school. I will inform your parents of your conduct."

"What have I done that is wrong?"

"You say _to be_ is an _active_ verb, when _I_ tell you, and the
_grammar_ and _dictionary_ tell you, it is _neuter_!"

"What is a _neuter_ verb, master?"

"It expresses 'neither action nor passion, but being or a state of
being.' Have you forgotten it?"

"No, sir, I _thought_ that was the case."

"What did you ask me for then?"

"Because I supposed you had found another meaning for it."

"To what do you allude, you troublesome fellow, you? I'll not bear your
insults much longer."

"For what did you punish me so severely just now?"

"For disobeying my orders."

"What did you order me to do?"

"_To be_ here in a minute."

"Well, did not I do what you told me?"

"No; you kept your seat, and did not come near me."

"Well, I thought and did just what you now tell me; that _to be_ is a
_neuter_ verb, expressing no _action_, but _being_. I had a _state_ of
_being_, and promised to keep it, and did keep it, and you punished me
for doing the very thing you told me to do!!"

The master looked down, shut up his book, and began to say that grammar
is a "_dry_, _cold_, and _useless_" study, hardly worth the trouble of
learning it.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_I am_ Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord,
who _is_, and who _was_, and who _is_ to come, the Almighty."--_Rev. 1:

If there is any action in maintaining eternal existence, by which all
things were created and are upheld, it is expressed in the verbs _am_,
_is_, and _was_.

God said, "Let there _be_ light, and there _was_ light;" or more
properly rendered, "Light =be=, and light =was=."

Was there no action in setting the sun, moon and stars in the firmament,
and in causing them to _send_ forth the rays of light to _dispel_ the
surrounding darkness? If there was, _be_ and _was_ denote that action.

"You are commanded =to be= and _appear_ before the court of common
pleas," etc. A heavy penalty is imposed upon those who fail to comply
with this citation--for neglecting to do what is expressed by the
_neuter verb_ to _be_.

Such cases might be multiplied without number, where this verb is
correctly used by all who employ language, and correctly understood by
all who are capable of knowing the meaning of words. But I think you
must all be convinced of the truth of our proposition, that all verbs
express action, either _real_ or _relative_; and in all cases have an
object, expressed or necessarily implied, which stands as the _effect_,
and an agent, as the cause of action: and hence that language, as a
means for the communication of thought, does not deviate from the
soundest principles of philosophy, but in all cases, rightly explained,
serves to illustrate them, in the plainest manner.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few remarks on the "Passive Verb," and I will conclude this part of
our subject, which has already occupied much more of our attention than
I expected at the outset.

"_A verb passive_ expresses a passion or a suffering, or the receiving
of an action; and necessarily implies an object acted upon, and an agent
by which it is acted upon; as, to be loved; Penelope is loved by me."

In the explanation of this verb, grammarians further tell us that a
passive verb is formed by adding the verb _to be_, which is thus made
auxiliary, to a past participle; as, Portia _was loved_. Pompey _was

It is singular how forgetful our great men sometimes are about observing
their own rules. Take an instance in Mr. Walker's octavo dictionary.
Look for the word _simeter_, a small sword. You will find it spelled
_scimitar_. Then turn over, and you will find it _s_im_i_t_a_r, with the
same definition, and the remark, "more properly _c_im_e_t_a_r." Then
turn back, and find the correct word as he spells it, and there you will
find it cimet_e_r.

Unsettled as to the true spelling, go to our own honored Webster. Look
for "scimiter." He says, see cimit_a_r. Then look for "cimitar;" see
cim_e_t_e_r. Then hunt up the true word, be it _ar_ or _er_, and you
will find it still another way, cim_i_t_e_r. Here the scholar has seven
different ways to spell this word, and neither of his authorities have
followed their own examples. I cite this as one of a thousand instances,
where our savans have laid down rules for others, and disregarded them

Portia _is loved_ and _happy_. She is _respectable_, _virtuous_,
_talented_, and _respected_ by all who know her. She _is seated by the
door_. Does the _door_ seat her? What agent, then, causes her _passion_
or _suffering_?

The book is printed. Will you parse _is printed_? It is a passive verb,
indicative mood, _present tense_. Who _is_ printing it? causing it, in
the present tense, to _suffer_ or _receive_ the action? The act of
printing _was performed_ a hundred years ago. How can it be present

Penelope _is loved_ by me. The blow _is received_ by me. It _is given_
by me. Penelope _is seated_ by me. The earthquake _is felt_ by her. The
evils _are suffered_ by her. The thunder _is heard_ by her. Does this
mean that she is the agent, and the earthquake, evils, and thunder, are
the objects which receive the _effects_ which she produces? That would
be singular philosophy, indeed. But _to feel_, _to suffer_, and _to
hear_, are active, and are constructed into passive verbs. Why is it not
as correct to say she _is suffering_ by another's wrongs, _is raging_ by
the operation of passion, or _is travelling_ by rail-road, are passive
verbs? The fact is, our language can not _be explained_ by set rules or
forms of speech. We must regard the sense. The past participle, as it is
called, becomes an adjective by use, and describes her as some way
affected by a previous action. She is _learned_, _handsome_, _modest_,
and, of course, _beloved_ by all who know her.

To say "she _is placed_ by the water's edge," is a passive verb, and
that the water's edge, as the agent, causes her "passion, suffering, or
receiving of the action," is false and ridiculous, for she _placed_
herself there.

"We _are seated_ on our seats by the stove." What power is _now_
operating on us to make us suffer or receive the action of being seated
on our seats? Does the stove perform this action? This is a passive
verb, _present tense_, which requires an "object acted upon, and an
_agent_ by which it is acted upon." But we came in and _seated
ourselves_ here an hour ago.

The man _is acquitted_. He _stands acquitted_ before the public. He _is
learned_, wise, and happy, very much _improved_ within a few years. He
_is_ always active, studious, and _engaged_ in his own affairs. He _is
renowned_, and _valorous_. She _is respected_. She _lives respected_.

If there is such a thing as a passive verb, it can never be used in the
present tense, for the action expressed by the principal verb which is
produced by the agent operating upon the object, is always _past_ tense,
and the auxiliary, or helping verb _to be_, is always present. Let this
verb be analyzed, and the true meaning of each word understood, little
difficulty will be found in giving it an explanation.

I will not spend more time in exposing the futility of this attempted
distinction. It depends solely on a verbal form, but can never _be
explained_ so as _to be understood_ by any scholar. Most grammarians
have seen the fallacy of attempting to give the meaning of this verb.
They can show its _form_, but _are_ frequently _compelled_, as in the
cases above, to sort out the "_passed_ participles" from a host of
adjectives, and it will _be found_ exceeding troublesome to make
scholars perceive any difference in the use of the words, or in the
construction of a sentence. But it may be they have never thought that
duty belonged to them; that they have nothing to do but to show them
what the book says. Suppose they should teach arithmetic on the same
principles, and learn the scholars to set down 144 as the product of 12
times 12. Let them look at the form of the figures, observe just how
they appear, and make some more like them, and thus go thro the book.
What would the child know of arithmetic? Just as much as they do of
grammar, and no more. They would understand nothing of the science of
numbers, of proportion, or addition. They would exercise the power of
imitation, and make one figure look like another. Beyond that, all would
be a _terra incognita_, a land unknown. So in the science of language;
children may learn that the verb _to be_, joined with the past
participle of an active verb, makes _a passive verb_; but what that
passive verb is when made, or how to apply it, especially in the present
tense, they have no means of knowing. Their knowledge is all taken on
trust, and when thrown upon their own resources, they have none on which
to rely.



    =Mood=.--Indicative.--Imperative.--Infinitive.--Former distinctions.
    --Subjunctive mood.--=Time=.--Past.--Present.--Future.--The future
    explained.--How formed.--Mr. Murray's distinction of time.--
    Imperfect.--Pluperfect.--Second future.--How many tenses.--
    =Auxiliary Verbs=.--Will.--Shall.--May.--Must.--Can.--Do.--Have.

We are now come to consider the different relations of action in
reference to _manner_ and _time_. We shall endeavor to be as brief as
possible upon this subject, keeping in view meanwhile that candor and
perspicuity which are indispensable in all our attempts to explain new

_Mood_ signifies _manner_. Applied to verbs it explains _how_, in _what
manner_, by what means, under what circumstances, actions are performed.

There are _three_ moods, the _indicative_ or declarative, the
_imperative_ or commanding, and the _infinitive_ or unlimited.

The indicative mood declares an action to be _done_ or _doing_, _not
done_, or _not doing_. It is always in the past or present tense; as,
David _killed_ Goliath; scholars _learn_ knowledge; I _spoke not_ a
word; they _sing not_.

The imperative mood denotes a command given from the first _person_ to
the _second_, _to do_ or _not do_ an action. It expresses the wish or
desire of the first person to have a certain action performed which
depends on the agency of the second. The command is _present_, but the
action signified by the word is _future_ to the giving of the command.
The second person cannot comply with the will of the first till such
will is made known; as, bring me a book; go to the door.

The _infinitive_ mood has no direct personal agent, but is produced as a
necessary consequence, growing out of a certain condition of things. It
is always _future_ to such condition; that is, some prior arrangement
must be had before such consequences will follow. It is always _future_;
as, they are collecting a force _to besiege_ the city. We study grammar
_to acquire_ a knowledge of language. Windows are made _to admit_ light.
The act of besieging the city depends on the previous circumstance, the
collection of a force _to do_ it. Were there no windows, the light would
not be admitted to the room.

These distinctions in regard to action must be obvious to every hearer.
You all are aware of the fact that action necessarily implies an actor,
as every effect must have an efficient cause; and such action clearly or
distinctly _indicated_, must have such an agent to produce it. 2d. You
are acquainted with the fact that one person can express his will to the
second, directing him to do or avoid some thing. 3d. From an established
condition of things, it is easy to deduce a consequence which will
follow, in the nature of things, as an unavoidable result of such a
combination of power, cause, and means.

With these principles you are all familiar, whether you have studied
grammar or not. They are clearly marked, abundantly simple, and must be
obvious to all. They form the only necessary, because the only real,
distinction, in the formation and use of the verb to express action. Any
minor distinctions are only calculated to perplex and embarrass the

But some grammarians have passed these natural barriers, and built to
themselves schemes to accord with their own vain fancies. The remarks of
Mr. Murray upon this point are very appropos. He says:

"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 allege, in support of their opinion, that the compound
expression which they help to form, point out those various 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
varying 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
constructions of languages which, in these points, do not suit the
peculiar nature of our 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 to inform
the learner."

Had he followed this rule, he would have saved weeks and months to every
student in grammar in the community. But his remarks were aimed at Mr.
Harris, who was by far the most popular writer on language in England at
that time. He has adopted the very rules of Mr. Murray, and carried them
out. By a careful observance of the different forms and changes of the
verb and its auxiliaries, he makes out quite evidently to his own mind,
_fourteen_ moods, which I forbear to name.

Most grammarians contend for _five_ moods, two of which, the _potential_
or powerful, and the _subjunctive_, are predicated on the same
principles as Mr. Harris' optative, interrogative, etc., which they
condemn. It is impossible to explain the character of these moods so as
to be understood. _If_, it is said, is the sign of the subjunctive, and
_may_ and _can_ of the potential; and yet they are often found together;
as, "I will go _if I can_." No scholar can determine in what mood to put
this last verb. It of right belongs to both the potential and
subjunctive. _If_ I _may_ be allowed to speak my mind, I _should_ say
that such distinctions were false.

I will not go into an exposure of these useless and false distinctions,
which are adopted to help carry out erroneous principles. The only
pretence for a subjunctive mood is founded on the fact that _be_ and
_were_ were formerly used in a character different from what they are
at present. _Be_ was used in the indicative mood, present tense, when
doubt or supposition was implied; as, If I _be_ there; if they _be_
wise. _Be_ I a man, and _receive_ such treatment? _Were_ was also used
instead of _was_ in the past tense; as, "_Were_ I an American I would
fight for liberty. If I _were_ to admit the fact." In this character
these words are rapidly becoming obsolete. We now say, "If I _am_ there;
am I a man, and _receive_ such abuses? _was_ I an American; if I was to
admit," etc.

All the round about, perplexing, and tedious affair of conjugating verbs
thro the different modes and tenses will appear in its true character,
when we come to give you a few brief examples, according to truth and
plain sense. But before doing that it will be necessary to make some
remarks on time.

_Tense_ means _time_. We distinguish time according to certain events
which are generally observed. In the use of the verb we express action
in reference to periods of time when it is performed.

There are three tenses, or divisions of time; _past_, _present_, and

_Past tense_ applies to actions which are accomplished; as, I _wrote_ a
book; he _recited_ his lesson.

_Present tense_ denotes actions commenced, but not finished, and now in
operation; as, he _reads_ his book; we _sit_ on our seats and _hear_ the

_Future tense_ refers to actions, which are _to take_ place hereafter;
as, I am _to go_ from the Institute; we desire _to learn_ grammar

Every body can mark three plain distinctions of time, past, present, and
future. With the past we have been acquainted. It has ceased to be. Its
works are ended. The present is a mere line--, nothing as it
were--which is constantly passing unchecked from the past to the future.
It is a mere division of the past and future. The Hebrew, which is
strictly a philosophic language, admits no present; only a _past_ and
_future_. We speak of the present as denoting an action begun and not
finished. In the summer, we say the trees grow, and bear fruit. But when
the fruit is fallen, and the leaves seared by the frost, we change the
expression, and say, it _grew_ and _bore_ fruit.

Of the _future_ we can know nothing definitely. Heaven has hung before
all human eyes an impenetrable veil which obscures all future events. No
man without prophetic vision bestowed by Him who "sees the end from the
beginning," can know what is _to be_, and no expression can be made, no
words employed which will positively declare a future action. We may see
a present condition of things, and from it argue what is _to be_, or
take place hereafter; but all that knowledge is drawn from the past and
deduced from a review of the present relation and tendencies of things.

I hold the paper near the fire and you say it _will_ burn, and you say
truly, for it has a _will_, or what is the same, an inherent tendency
_to burn_. It is made of combustible matter, like paper which we have
seen burn, and hence we argue this has the same tendency to be consumed.
But how does your mind arrive at that fact? If you had never seen a
substance like it burn, why should you conclude this _will_? Does the
child know it _will_ burn? No; for it has not yet learned the quality of
the paper. It is not till the child has been burned that it dreads the
fire. Suppose I take some asbestus, of the kind called amianthus, which
is a mineral, and is formed of slender flexible fibres like flax; and in
eastern countries, especially in Savoy and Corsica, is manufactured into
cloth, paper, and lamp wicks. It was used in making winding sheets for
the dead, in which the bodies were burned, and the ashes, retained in
the incombustible sheet, were gathered into an urn, and revered as the
manes of the dead. Suppose I take some of this incombustible paper or
cloth, and present to you. You say it _will_ burn. Why do you say thus?
Because you have seen other materials which appear like this, consume to
ashes. Let us put it into the fire. It _will not_ burn. It has no
_tendency_ to burn; no quality which will consume. But this is a new
idea to you and hence your mistake. You did not know it _would_ burn,
nor could you _indicate_ such a fact. You only told your opinion derived
from the present appearance of things, and hence you made an assertion
in the _indicative_ mood, present tense, and added to it an _infinitive_
mood, in order to deduce the consequence of this future action--it
_wills_, or has a _tendency_ to burn. But you were mistaken, because
ignorant of the _nature_ of things. This amianthus looks like flax, and
to a person unacquainted with it, appears to be as truly combustible;
but the mineralogist, and all who know its properties, know very well
that it _will_ not--wills nothing, has no inclination, or tendency, to

Take another example. Here is a steel needle. I hold it before you. You
say, "if I let go of it, it _will_ fall," and you say correctly, for it
has such a tendency. But suppose a magnet, as great as that which is
said to have drawn the iron coffin of Mohammed to the roof of the temple
at Mecca, should be placed in the room above us. The needle, instead of
falling to the floor, would be drawn in the nearest direction to that
magnet. The _will_ or _tendency_ of the needle, as generally understood,
would be overcome, the natural law of gravitation would lose its
influence, by the counteracting power of the loadstone.

I say, "I will go home in an hour." But does that expression _indicate_
the act of _going_? It is placed in the indicative mood in our grammars;
and _go_ is the principal, and _will_ the auxiliary verb. May be I shall
fall and die before I reach my home. But the expression is correct;
_will_ is _present_, go _future_. I _will_, I now _resolve_, am now
inclined _to go_ home.

You see the correctness of our position, that we can not positively
assert a future active in the indicative mood. Try and form to
yourselves a phrase by which it can be done. Should you succeed, you
would violate a law of nature. You would penetrate the dark curtain of
the future, and claim to yourself what you do not possess, a power to
declare future actions. Prophets, by the help of the Almighty, had this
power conferred upon them. But in the revelation of the sublime truths
they were instructed to make known, they were compelled to adopt human
language, and make it agree with our manner of speech.

The only method by which we express a future event, is to make an
assertion in the indicative mood, present tense, and to that append the
natural consequence in the infinitive or unlimited; as, I _am to go_ to
Boston. He is preparing _to visit_ New-York. The infinitive mood is
always future to the circumstance on which it depends.

Mr. Murray says, that "tense, being the distinction of time, might seem
to admit of only the present, past, and future; but to mark it more
_accurately_, it is made to consist of six variations, viz.: the
present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect, first and second future
tenses." This _more accurate mark_, only serves to expose the author's
folly, and distract the learner's mind. Before, all was plain. The past,
present, and future are distinct, natural divisions, easily understood
by all. But what idea can a person form of an _imperfect_ tense in
action. If there was ever such an action in the world, it was when
_grammarians_ =made= their grammars, which is, if I mistake not,
according to their own authority, in the _im-perfect_ tense! I _wrote_ a
letter. He _read_ his piece well. The scholar learn_ed_ and recit_ed_
his lesson _perfectly_; and yet _learned_, tho made _perfect_ by the
qualification of an _adverb_, is an _imperfect_ action!

But this explains the whole mystery in the business of grammar. We can
here discover the cause of all the troubles and difficulties we have
encountered in the whole affair. When authors _made_ their books, they
_did_ it _imperfectly_; when teachers _taught_ them, it was
_imperfectly_; and when scholars _learned_ them, it was _imperfectly_!!
So at last, we have found the origin of this whole difficulty, in the
grammars themselves; it was all imperfectly done.

But here, again, _mirabile dictu!_ wonderful to tell, we are presented
with a _plu-perfect_ tense; that is,--_plus_ means _more_,--a _more_
than perfect tense! What must that be? If a thing is perfect, we can not
easily conceive any thing beyond. That is a _ne plus ultra_ to all
advancement--there can be no more beyond. If any change is introduced,
it must be by falling from _perfect_ back to _imperfect_.

I _have said_, "many of the distinctions in the grammar books _have
proved_ mischievous; that they are as false as frivolous;" and
this is said _perfectly_, in the perfect tense. If I should say,
"they _had been_ of some benefit," that would be _more_ than
_perfect_--plu-perfect. But when I say, "they _exhibited_ great depth
of research, and _conveyed_ some light on the subject of which they
_treated_," it would all be _im_-perfect.

Next, we are presented with a _second future_ tense, which attempts a
division of time unbounded and unknown. In the greek, they have what is
called a "_paulo post future_," which in plain english, means a "_little
after the future_;" that is, I suppose, when futurity has come to an
end, this tense will commence! At that time we may expect to meet a
"_præter plus quam perfectum_"--a more than perfect tense! But till that
period shall arrive, we see little need of making such false and
unphilosophic distinctions.

A teacher once told me that he explained the distinctions of time to his
scholars from the clock dial which stood in the school room. Suppose
_twelve_ o'clock represents the _present_ tense; _nine_ would signify
the _perfect_; any thing between nine and twelve would be _imperfect_;
any thing beyond, _pluperfect_. On the other hand, any act, forward of
twelve, would be _future_; and at _three_ the _second future_ would
commence. I remarked that I thought this a wonderful improvement,
especially to those who were able to have clocks by which to teach
grammar, but that I could not discover why he did not have _three
future_, as well as _three past_ tenses. Why, he said, there were no
such tenses marked in the books, and hence there was no occasion to
explain them. I asked him why he did not have a tense for every hour,
and so he could distinguish with Mr. Webster, _twelve_ tenses, without
any trouble whatever; and, by going three times round the dial, he could
easily prove the correctness of Dr. Beattie's division; for he says, in
his grammar, there are _thirty-six_ tenses, and thinks there can not be
less without "introducing confusion in the grammatical _art_." But he
thought such a course would serve rather to perplex than enlighten; and
so thought I. But he was the teacher of a popular school in the city
of ----, and had published a duodecimo grammar of over 300 pages,
entitled "Murray's Grammar, _improved_, by ----." I will not give his
name; it would be libellous!

Mr. Murray thinks because certain things which he asserts, but does not
prove, are found in greek and latin, "we may doubtless apply them to the
english verb; and extend the principle _as far as convenience_, and the
idiom of our language require." He found it to his "convenience" to note
_six_ principal, and as many _indefinite_ tenses. Mr. Webster does the
same. Dr. Beattie found it "convenient" to have _thirty-six_. In the
greek they have _nine_. Mr. Bauzee distinguishes in the french _twenty_
tenses; and the royal academy of Spain present a very learned and
elaborate treatise on _seven future tenses_ in that language. The clock
dial of my friend would be found quite "_convenient_" in aiding the
"convenience" of such distinctions.

The fact is, there are only three real divisions of time in any
language, because there are only three in nature, and the ideas of all
nations must agree in this respect. In framing language it was found
impossible to mark any other distinctions, without introducing other
words than those which express simple action. These words became
compounded in process of time, till they are now used as changes of the
same verb. I would here enter into an examination of the formation of
the tenses of greek, latin, french, spanish, and german verbs, did I
conceive it necessary, and show you how, by compounding two words, they
form the various tenses found in the grammars. But it will be more
edifying to you to confine my remarks to our own language. Here it will
be found impossible to distinguish more than three tenses, or find the
verb in any different form, except by the aid of other words, wholly
foreign from those that express the action under consideration.

It is by the aid of auxiliary verbs that the perfect, pluperfect, or
future tenses are formed. But when it is shown you that these are
principal verbs, and like many other words, are used before the
infinitive mood without the word _to_ prefixed to them, you will
perceive the consistency of the plan we propose. That such is the fact
we have abundant evidence to show, and with your consent we will
introduce it in this place. I repeat, all the words long considered
auxiliaries, are _principal_ verbs, declarative of positive action, and
as such are in extensive use in our language. We can hardly agree that
the words _will_, _shall_, _may_, _must_, _can_, _could_, _would_,
_should_, etc. have no meaning, as our grammars and dictionaries would
teach us; for you may look in vain for a definition of them, as
principal verbs, with a few exceptions.

The reason these words are not found in the same relation to other
words, with a _to_ after them, is because they are so often used that we
are accustomed to drop that word. The same may be said of all small
words in frequent use; as, _bid_, _do_, _dare_, _feel_, _hear_, _have_,
_let_, _make_, _see_, and sometimes _needs_, _tell_, and a few others.
Bid him go. I _dare say_ so. I _feel_ it _move_. We _hear_ him _sing_.
_Let_ us _go_. _Make_ him _do_ it. He _must go_ thro Samaria. _Tell_ him
_do_ it immediately.

It is a singular fact, but in keeping with neuter verb systems, that all
the _neuter_ verbs as well as the active, take these auxiliary or
_helping_ verbs, which, according to their showing _help them do
nothing_--"express neither action or passion." A wonderful _help_

       *       *       *       *       *

=Will.= This verb signifies to _wish_, to _resolve_, to _exercise
volition_, in reference to a certain thing or action. "I will go." I
_now resolve_ to perform the act of going. When applied to inanimate
things incapable of volition, it signifies what is analogous to it,
_inherent tendency_; as, paper _will_ burn; iron _will_ sink; water
_will_ run. All these things have an inherent or active tendency to
change. Water is composed of minute particles of a round form, piled
together. While on a level they do not move; but let a descent be made,
and these particles, under the influence of gravitation, _will_ change
position, and roll one over another with a rapidity equalled to the
condition in which they are placed. The same may be observed in a
quantity of shot opened at one side which _will_ run thro the aperture;
but the particles being larger, they will not find a level like water.
Grain, sand, and any thing composed of small particles, _will_ exhibit
the same tendency. Iron, lead, or any mineral, in a state of igneous
solution, _will_ run, has the same _inclination_ to run as water, or any
other liquid. In oil, tallow, and lard, when expanded by heat, the same
tendency is observed; but severely chilled with the cold, it congeals,
and _will_ not, has no such _tendency_, to run.

You have doubtless observed a cask filled with water and nearly tight,
(if it is possible, make it quite so,) and when an aperture is made in
the side, it _will_ run but a trifle before it will stop. Open a vent
upon the top of the cask and it _will_ run freely. This _will_ or
tendency was counteracted by other means which I will not stop here to

This is a most important word in science, physical and moral, and may
be traced thro various languages where it exerts the same influence in
the expression of thought.

"To avoid multiplying of words, I would crave leave here, under the word
_action_, to comprehend the _forbearance_ too of any action proposed;
_sitting still_, or _holding one's peace_, when _walking_ or _speaking_
are proposed, tho mere forbearances, requiring as much the determination
of the _will_, and being as often weighty in their consequences as the
_contrary actions_, may, on that consideration, well enough pass for
actions too. For he that shall turn his thoughts inwards upon what
passes in his mind when he _wills_, shall see that the _will_ or power
of volition is conversant about nothing."--_Locke's Essay_, b. II. c.
21. § 30.

It is correctly applied by writers to _matter_ as well as mind, as may
be seen by consulting their works.

    "Meanwhile as nature _wills_, night bids us rest."

The _lupulis_, or common hop, _feels_ for some elevated object which
will assist it in its high aspirations, and _will_ climb it by winding
from left to right, and _will_ not be obliged to go in an opposite
direction; while the _phaseolus_, or kidney bean, takes the opposite
direction. Neither _will_ be compelled to change its course. They _will_
have their own way, and grow as they please, or they _will_ die in the
contest for liberty.

Arsenic has a _tendency_ in itself, a latent power, which only requires
an opportunity suited to its objects, when it _will act_ in the most
efficacious manner. It _will_ destroy the life of the Emperor, who has
_voluntarily_ slain his thousand and tens of thousands. This secret
power does not reside in the flour of wheat, for that _will not_, has no
tendency, to produce such disastrous consequences.

This word is applied in a similar manner to individuals and nations.
The man _will_ fall, not of intention, but of accident. He _will_ kill
himself. The man _will_ drown, and the boat _will_ swim. The water
_will_ hold up the boat, but it _will_ allow the man to sink. The
Russians _will_ conquer the Turks. If conquest depended solely on the
_will_, the Turks would as soon conquer as the Russians. But I have not
time to pursue this topic farther. You can follow out these hints at
your leisure.

=Shall= signifies to be _bound_, _obligated_, or _required_, from
external necessity. Its etymology may be traced back thro various
languages. It is derived direct from the saxon _scaelan_ or _scylan_,
and is found as a principal verb in that language, as well as in ours.
In the church homily they say, "To Him alone we _schall us_ to devote
ourselves;" we _bind_ or _obligate_ ourselves. Chaucer, an early english
poet, says.

    "The faith we _shall_ to God."

Great difficulty has been found in distinguishing between _shall_ and
_will_, and frequent essays have been written, to give arbitrary rules
for their use. If the words were well understood, there could be no
difficulty in employing them correctly. _Will_ signifies _inherent
tendency_, _aptitude_, or _disposition_, and _volition_ in beings
capable of using it. _Shall_ implies _external necessity_, or foreign
obligation. The parent says, "You _will_ suffer misery if you do evil,"
for it is in accordance with the nature of things for evil to produce
misery. "You _shall_ regard my wishes," for you are under _obligation_,
from the relation in which you stand to me, to do so. Let these words be
clearly explained, and there will be no difficulty in using them

=May=, past tense _might_. This verb expresses _power_, _strength_, or
_ability_ to perform an action. It is a mistake that it means permission
or liberty only. It implies more than that, the delegation of a power to
perform the contemplated action. Suppose the scholar should faint, would
the teacher say to him you _may_ go into the open air? He has no
_power_, _might_, or _strength_, communicated by such liberty, and must
receive the _might_ or strength of others to carry him out. But to the
scholar in health he says you _may_ go out, thereby giving to him a
power and liberty sufficient to perform the action. This is done on the
same principle that one man gives another a "_power_ of attorney" to
transact his business; and that _power_ constitutes his _liberty_ of

=Must= signifies to be _confined_, _limited_, _bound_, or _restrained_.
I _must_, or am bound, to obey; certain obligations require me to obey.
The adjective of this word is in common use. The air in the cask is
_musty_. It has long been _bound_ or _confined_ there, and prevented
from partaking of the purifying qualities of the atmosphere, and hence
has become _musty_.

=Can.= This word is found as a principal verb and as a noun in our
language, especially in the Scotch dialect. "I _ken_ nae where he'd
gone." Beyond the _ken_ of mortals. Far from all human _ken_. It
signifies to _know_, to perceive, to understand. I knew not where he had
gone. Beyond the knowledge of mortals. Far from all human reach. To
_con_ or _cun_ is a different spelling of the same word. _Cunning_ is
that quick _perception_ of things, which enables a person to use his
knowledge adroitly. The child _can_ read; _knows_ how to read. It _can_
walk. Here it seems to imply _power_; but power, in this case, as in
most others, is gained only by knowledge, for =knowledge is power=.
Many children have strength sufficient to walk, long before they do. The
reason why they _can not_ walk, is, they do not _know how_; they have
not learned to balance themselves in an erect position, so as to move
forward without falling.

A vast proportion of human ability is derived from knowledge. There is
not a being in creation so entirely incapable of self-support, as the
new-born infant; and yet, by the help of knowledge, he becomes the lord
of this lower world. Bonaparte was once as helpless as any other child,
and yet by dint of _can_, _ken_, _cunning_, or knowledge, he made all
Europe tremble. But his knowledge was limited. He became blind to
danger, bewildered by success, and he _could_ no longer follow the
prudent course of wisdom, but fell a sacrifice to his own unbridled
ambition, and blinded folly. An enlightened people _can_ govern
themselves; but _power_ of government is gained by a knowledge of the
principles of equality, and mutual help and dependency; and whenever the
people become ignorant of that fact, they _will_ fall, the degraded
victims of their own folly, and the wily influence of some more knowing
aspirant for power.

This is a most important topic; but I dare not pursue it farther, lest I
weary your patience. A few examples _must_ suffice.

    "Jason, she cried, for aught I _see_ or _can_,
    This deed," &c.

                          A famous man,
    Of every _witte_ somewhat he _can_,
    _Out take_ that him lacketh rule,
    His own estate to guide and rule.

=Do= has been called a _helping_ verb; but it needs little observation
to discover that it is no more so than a hundred other words. "_Do_
thy diligence to come before winter." "_Do_ the work of an
evangelist."--_Paul to Timothy._ I _do_ all in my power _to expose_ the
error and wickedness of false teaching. _Do_ afford relief. _Do_
something to afford relief.

=Have= has also been reckoned as an auxiliary by the "helping verb
grammars," which has no other duty to perform than help conjugate other
verbs thro some of their moods and tenses. It is a word in very common
use, and of course must possess a very important character, which should
be carefully examined and distinctly known by all who desire a knowledge
of the construction of our language.

The principal difficulty in the explanation of this word, is the
peculiar meaning which some have attached to it. It has been defined to
denote _possession_ merely. But when we say, a man _has_ much _property
destroyed_ by fire, we do not mean that he _gains_ or _possesses_ much
property by the fire; nor can we make _has_ auxiliary to _destroyed_,
for in that case it would stand thus: a man _has destroyed_ much
property by fire, which would be false, for the destruction was produced
by an incendiary, or some other means wholly unknown to him.

You at once perceive that _to possess_ is not the only meaning which
attaches to _have_. It assumes a more important rank. It can be traced,
with little change in form, back thro many generations. It is the same
word as _heave_, originally, and retains nearly the same meaning. Saxon
_habban_, Gothic _haban_, German _haben_, Latin _habeo_, French _avoir_,
are all the same word, varied in spelling more than in sound; for _b_ in
many languages is sounded very much like _v_, or _bv_. It may mean to
_hold_, _possess_, _retain_, _sway_, _control_, _dispose of_, either as
a direct or _relative_ action; for a man sustains relations to his
actors, duties, family, friends, enemies, and all the world, as well as
to his possessions. He _has_ a hard task to perform. He _has_ much pain
_to suffer_. He _has_ suffered much unhappiness.

I _have written_ a letter. I _have_ a written letter. I _have_ a letter
_written_. These expressions differ very little in meaning, but the verb
_have_ is the same in each case. By the first expression, I signify that
I have _caused_ the letter to be _written_; by the second that I have a
letter on which such action has been performed; and by the third, that
such written letter stands in such relation to myself.

I _have written_ a letter and sent it away. _Written_ is the past
participle from _write_; as an adjective it describes the letter in the
condition I placed it; so that it will be defined, wherever it is found,
as my letter; that is, some way _related_ to me.

We can here account for the old _perfect tense_, which is said, "not
only to refer to what is _past_, but also _to convey an allusion to the
present time_." The verb is in the _present_ tense, the participle is in
the _past_, and hence the reason of this allusion. I _have_ no _space
allowed_ me to go into a full investigation of this word, in its
application to the expression of ideas. But it is necessary to _have_ it
well _understood_, as it _has_ an important _service entrusted_ to it;
and I hope you will _have_ clear _views presented_ to your minds, strong
enough to _have_ former _errors eradicated_ therefrom.

If you _have_ leisure _granted_, and patience and disposition equal-_ed_
to the task, you have my consent to go back and read this sentence over
again. You will find it _has_ in it embodied much important information
in relation to the use of _have_ and the perfect tense.



    Person and number in the agent, not in the action.--Similarity of
    agents, actions, and objects.--Verbs made from nouns.--Irregular
    verbs.--Some examples.--Regular Verbs.--_Ed_.--_Ing_.--Conjugation
    of verbs.--To love.--To have.--To be.--The indicative mood
    varied.--A whole sentence may be agent or object.--Imperative
    mood.--Infinitive mood.--Is always future.

I have said before that action can never be known separate from the
actor; that the verb applies to the agent in an _acting_ condition, as
that term has been defined and should be understood. Hence Person and
Number can never attach to the verb, but to the agent with which, of
course, the action must, in every respect, agree; as, "_I write_." In
this case the action corresponds with myself. But to say that _write_ is
in the "first person, singular number," would be wrong, for no such
number or person belongs to the verb, but is confined to myself as the
agent of the action.

The form of the verb is changed when it agrees with the second or third
person singular; more on account of habit, I apprehend, than from any
reason, or propriety as to a change of meaning in the word. We say, when
using the regular _second_ person singular, "_thou writest_," a form
rarely observed except in addresses to Deity, or on solemn occasions. In
the _third_ person, an _s_ is added to the regular form; as, "_he
writes_." The old form, which was in general use at the time the common
version of the Bible was published, was still different, ending in
_eth_; as, _he thinketh_, _he writeth_. This style, altho considerably
used in the last century, is nearly obsolete. When the verb agrees with
the plural number it is usually the same as when it agrees with the
first person; as, "_We write_, _you write_, _they write_." There are few
exceptions to these rules.

Some people have been very tenacious about retaining the old forms of
words, and our books were long printed without alteration; but change
will break thro every barrier, and book-makers must keep pace with the
times, and put on the dress that is catered for them by the public
taste; bearing in mind, meanwhile, that great and practical truths are
more essential than the garb in which they appear. We should be more
careful of our health of body and purity of morals than of the costume
we put on. Many genteel coats wrap up corrupt hearts, and fine hats
cover silly heads. What is the chaff to the wheat?

Even our good friends, the quakers, who have particularly labored to
retain old forms--"the plain language,"--have failed in their attempt,
and have substituted the _object_ form of the pronoun for the _agent_,
and say, "_thee thinks_," for _thou thinkest_. Their mistake is even
greater than the substitution of _you_ for _thou_.

So far as language depends on the conventional regulation of those who
use it, it will be constantly changing; new words will be introduced,
and the spelling of old ones altered, so as to agree with modern
pronounciation. We have all lived long enough to witness the truth of
this remark. The only rule we can give in relation to this matter is, to
follow our own judgments, aided by our best writers and speakers.

The words which express action, are in many cases very similar to the
agents which produce them; and the objects which are the direct results
produced by such action, do not differ very materially. I will give you
a few examples.

    _Agent._           _Verb._        _Object._
    Actors             Act            Actions
    Breathers          Breathe        Breath
    Builders           Build          Buildings
    Coiners            Coin           Coins
    Casters            Cast           Casts or castings
    Drinkers           Drink          Drink
    Dreamers           Dream          Dreams
    Earners            Earn           Earnings
    Fishers            Fish           Fishes
    Gainers            Gain           Gain
    Hewers             Hew            Hewings
    Innkeepers         Keep           Inns
    Light or lighters  Light or shed  Lights
    Miners             Mine or dig    Mines
    Pleaders           Plead or make  Pleas
    Producers          Produce        Products
    Raisers            Raise          Raisings or houses
    Runners or racers  Run            Runs or races
    Sufferers          Suffer         Sufferings
    Speakers           Speak          Speeches
    Thinkers           Think          Thoughts
    Writers            Write          Writings
    Workers            Work           Works

I give you these examples to show you the near alliance between
_actors_, (  ,) and _actions_; or agents, _actions_, and objects. Such
expressions as the above are inelegant, because they are uncommon; but
for no other reason, for we, in numberless cases, employ the same word
for agent and verb; as, _painters paint_ buildings, and _artists_ paint
paintings; _bookbinders bind books_; _printers print_ books, and other
_prints_. A little observation will enable you to carry out these hints,
and profit by them. You have observed the disposition in children, and
foreigners, who are partially acquainted with our language, to make
verbs out of almost every noun, which appears to us very aukward; but
was it common, it would be just as correct as the verbs now used. There
are very few verbs which have not a noun to correspond with them, for we
make verbs, that is, we use words to express action, which are nearly
allied to the agent with which such action agrees.[17] From botany we
have made _botanize_; from Mr. McAdam, the inventor of a particular
kind of road, _macadamize_, which means to make roads as he made them.
Words are formed in this way very frequently. The word _church_ is often
used as a noun to express a building used for public worship; for the
services performed in it; for the whole congregation; for a portion of
believers associated together; for the Episcopal order, etc. It is also
used as a verb. Mr. Webster defines it, "To perform with any one the
office of returning thanks in the church after any signal deliverance."
But the word has taken quite a different turn of late. _To church_ a
person, instead of receiving him into communion, as that term would seem
to imply, signifies to deal with an offending member, to excommunicate,
or turn him out.

But I will not pursue this point any farther. The brief hints I have
thrown out, will enable you to discover how the meaning and forms of
words are changed from their original application to suit the notions
and improvements of after ages. A field is here presented which needs
cultivation. The young should be taught to search for the etymology of
words, to trace their changes and meaning as used at different times and
by different people, keeping their minds constantly directed to the
object signified by such verbal sign. This is the business of
philosophy, under whatever name it may be taught; for grammar, rhetoric,
logic, and the science of the mind, are intimately blended, and should
always be taught in connexion. We have already seen that words without
meaning are like shadows without realities. And persons can not employ
language "correctly," or "with propriety," till they have acquainted
themselves with the import of such language--the ideas of things
signified by it. Let this course be adopted in the education of
children, and they will not be required to spend months and years in the
study of an "_art_" which they can not comprehend, for the simple reason
that they can not apply it in practice. Grammar has been taught as a
mere _art_, depending on arbitrary rules to be mechanically learned,
rather than a science involving the soundest and plainest principles of
philosophy, which are to be known only as developed in common practice
among men, and in accordance with the permanent laws which govern human

Verbs differ in the manner of forming their _past_ tenses, and
participles, or adjectives. Those ending in _ed_ are called _regular_;
those which take any other termination are _irregular_. There are about
two hundred of the latter in our language, which differ in various ways.
Some of them have the _past_ tense and the past participle the same; as,

    Bid               Bid                 Bid
    Knit              Knit                Knit
    Shut              Shut                Shut
    Let               Let                 Let
    Spread            Spread              Spread, etc.

Others have the past tense and participle alike, but different from the
present; as,

    Lend              Lent                Lent
    Send              Sent                Sent
    Bend              Bent                Bent
    Wend              Went                Went
    Build             Built or builded    Built
    Think             Thought             Thought, etc.

Some have the present and past tense and participle different; as,

    Blow              Blew                Blown
    Grow              Grew                Grown
    Begin             Began               Begun
    See               Saw                 Seen
    Write             Wrote               Written
    Give              Gave                Given
    Speak             Spoke               Spoken
    Rise              Rose                Risen
    Fall              Fell                Fallen, etc.

There are a few which are made up of different radicals, which have been
wedded together by habit, to avoid the frequent and unpleasant
recurrence of the same word; as,

    Am                Was                 Been
    Go (wend)         Went                Gone, etc.

Some which were formerly irregular, are now generally used with the
regular termination, in either the past tense or participle, or both;

    Hang              Hung or hanged      Hung or hanged
    Dare              Dared or durst      Dared
    Clothe            Clad or clothed     Clad or clothed
    Work              Worked or wrought   Worked
    Shine             Shined or shone     Shone or shined
    Spill             Spilled or spilt    Spilt or spilled, etc.

The syllable _ed_ is a contraction of the past tense of _do_; as, I
_loved_, love _did_, _did_ love, or love-_ed_. He learn_ed_, learn did,
did learn, or learned. It signifies action, _did_, done, or
accomplished. You have all lived long enough to have noticed the change
in the pronounciation of this syllable. Old people sound it full and
distinct; and so do most others in reading the scriptures; but not so
generally as in former times. In poetry it was usually abbreviated so as
to avoid the full sound; and hence we may account for the _irregular_
termination of many words, such as _heard_, for _heared_; _past_, for
_passed_; _learnt_, for _learned_; _built_, for _builded_. In modern
poetry, however, the _e_ is retained, tho sounded no more than formerly.

_Ing_ is derived from the verb to _be_, and signifies _being_,
_existing_; and, attached to a verb, is used as a noun, or adjective,
retaining so much of its former character as to have an object after it
which is affected by it; as, "I am _writing_ a lecture." Here _writing_,
the present participle of _write_, describes myself in my present
employment, and yet retains its action as a verb, and terminates on
_lecture_ as the thing written. "The man was taken in the act of
_stealing_ some money." In this case _stealing_ names the action which
the man was performing when detected, which action thus named, has
_money_ for the object on which it terminates.

I barely allude to this subject in this place to give you an idea of the
method we adopt to explain the meaning and use of participles. It
deserves more attention, perhaps, to make it plain to your minds; but as
it is not an essential feature in the new system, I shall leave it for
consideration in a future work. Whoever is acquainted with the formation
of the present participle in other languages, can carry out the
suggestions I have made, and fully comprehend my meaning.

I will present you with an example of the conjugations of a few verbs
which you are requested to compare with the "_might could would should
have been loved_" systems, which you were required to learn in former
times. You will find the verb in every _form_ or position in which it
ever occurs in our language, written or spoken.

Conjugation of the regular verb =to love=.


                      _Singular_               _Plural_

                      I _love_                 We _love_
    Present tense     Thou _lovest_            You _love_
                      He, she, or it _loves_   They _love_

                      I _loved_                We _loved_
    Past tense        Thou _lovedst_           You _loved_
                      He, she, or it _loved_   They _loved_




    _To love._


    Present, _Loving_
    Past, _Loved_

The irregular verb =to have=, is thus conjugated.


                      I _have_                 We _have_
    Present tense     Thou _hast_              You _have_
                      He _has_                 They _have_

                      I _had_                  We _had_
    Past tense        Thou _hadst_             You _had_
                      He _had_                 They _had_




    _To have._


    Present, _Having_
    Past, _Had_

The irregular verb =to be=, stands thus:


                      I _am_                   We _are_
    Present tense     Thou _art_               You _are_
                      He _is_                  They _are_

                      I _was_                  We _were_
    Past tense        Thou _wast_              You _were_
                      He _was_                 They _were_




    _To be._


    Present, _Being_
    Past, _Been_

These examples will suffice to give you an idea of the ease and
simplicity of the construction of verbs, and by a comparison with old
systems, you can, for yourselves, determine the superiority of the
principles we advocate. The above tabular views present every form which
the verb assumes, and every position in which it is found. In use,
these words are frequently compounded together;[18] but with a
knowledge of the above principles, and the _meaning_ of the words--a
most essential consideration--you will always be able to analyze any
sentence, and parse it correctly. I have not time to enlarge on this
point, to show how words are connected together. Nor do I think it
necessary to enable you to understand my views. To children such a work
would be indispensable, and shall be attended to if we are able to
publish a grammar containing the simple principles of language.

       *       *       *       *       *

The indicative mood is varied four ways. 1st, affirmatively, _he
writes_; 2d, negatively, _he writes not_; 3d, interrogatively, _does_ he
write? or _writes_ he? 4th, suppositively, if _he writes_, _suppose he
writes_, allow _he writes_.

The _first_ is a simple affirmation of a fact, and is easily understood.
The _second_ is formed by annexing a term to express negation. _Not_ is
a contraction from _nought_ or _naught_, which is a compound of _ne_,
negative, and ought or aught, _ne-aught_, meaning _no-thing_. _He writes
not_; he writes nothing. He does _not_ write; he does _nothing_ to
write. _Neither_ is a compound of _ne_ and _either_, _not either_. He
_can not_ read; he _can_, _kens_, _knows nothing_, has no ability _to

The third is constructed into a question by placing the verb before the
agent, or by prefixing another word before the agent, and then placing
the former verb as an infinitive after it; as, _Does_ he write? or
_writes_ he? When another verb is prefixed, one is always chosen which
will best decide the query. Does he _any thing_ to write? Does he make
any motions or show any indications to write? When the _will_ or
disposition of a person is concerned, we choose a word accordingly.
_Will_ he write? Has he the _will_ or disposition to write? _Can_ he
write? Is he able--_knows_ he how to write? A little observation will
enable you to understand my meaning.

In the fourth place, a supposition is made in the imperative mood, in
accordance with which the action is performed. "_If_ ye _love_ me, keep
my commandments." _Give_, _grant_, _allow_, _suppose_ this fact--you
_love_ me, keep my commandments. I will go if I can. I _resolve_,
_will_, or _determine_ to go; _if_, _gif_, _give_, grant, allow this
fact, I _can_, _ken_, _know_ how, or _am_ able _to go_. But more on this
point when we come to the consideration of contractions.

In this mood the verb must have an agent and object, expressed or
implied; as, "_farmers_ cultivate the _soil_." But a whole sentence,
that is, an idea written out, may perform this duty; as, "The study of
grammar, on false principles, is productive of no good." What is
productive of no good? What is the agent of _is_? "The _study_," our
books and teachers tell us. But does such a construction give the true
meaning of the sentence? I think not, for _study_ is indispensable to
knowledge and usefulness, and _the study_ of grammar, properly directed,
is a most useful branch of literature, which should never be dispensed
with. It is the study of grammar _on false principles_, which _is
productive of no good_. You discover my meaning, and will not question
its correctness. You must also see how erroneous it would be to teach
children that "_to study_ is productive of no good." The force of the
sentence rests on the "false principles" taught. Hence the whole
statement is truly the agent of the verb.

The object on which the action terminates is frequently expressed in a
similar manner; as, "He wrote to me, that he will adopt the new system
of grammar, if he can procure some books to give his scholars to learn."
Will you parse _wrote_? Most grammarians will call it an _intransitive_
verb, and make out that "he wrote" _nothing_ to me, because there is no
regular objective word after it. Will you parse _that_? It is a
"conjunction _copulative_." What does it connect? "_He wrote_" to the
following sentence, according to Rule 18 of Mr. Murray; "conjunctions
connect the _same_ moods and tenses of verbs and cases of nouns and
pronouns." Unluckily you have two different tenses connected in this
case. Will you parse _if_? It is a _copulative_ conjunction, connecting
the two members of the sentence--_he will adopt_ if _he can procure_:
Rule, as above. How exceeding unfortunate! You have _two_ different
moods, and too different tenses, connected by a _copulative_ conjunction
which the rule says "connects _the same_ moods and tenses! What
nonsense! What a falsehood! What a fine thing to be a grammarian! And
yet, I venture the opinion, and I judge from what I have seen in myself
and others, there is not one teacher in a hundred who will not learn
children to parse as above, and apply the same rule to it. "I _will go_
if I _can_." "I _do_ and _will_ contend." "As it _was_ in the beginning,
_is_ now, _and_ ever _shall be_." "I _am_ here and _must_ remain." "He
_will do_ your business _if_ he _has_ time." "I _am_ resolved _to
expose_ the errors of grammar, _and will do_ it thoroly _if_ I _can_."

In these examples you have different moods and tenses, indiscriminately,
yet correctly coupled together, despite the rules of syntax which teach
us to explain language "with propriety."

_That_, in the sentence before us, is an adjective, referring to the
following sentence, which is the _object_ of _wrote_, or is the thing
written. "He wrote to me _that_" fact, sentiment, opinion,
determination, or resolution, that writing, letter, or word--"he will
adopt the new system of grammar, if he can procure some books."

This subject properly belongs to that department of language called
syntax; but as I shall not be able to treat of that in this course of
lectures, I throw in here these brief remarks to give you some general
ideas of the arrangement of words into sentences, according to their
true meaning, as obtained from a knowledge of their etymology. You
cannot fail to observe this method of constructing language if you will
pay a little attention to it when reading; keeping all the time in view
the fact that words are only the signs of ideas, derived from an
observation of things. You all know that it is not merely the steam that
propels the boat, but that it is steam _applied to machinery_. Steam is
the more latent cause; and the engine with its complicated parts is the
direct means. In the absence of either, the boat would not be propelled.
In the formation of language, I may say correctly, "Solomon _built_ the
temple;" for he stood in that relation to the matter which supposes it
would not have been built without his direction and command. To
accomplish such an action, however, he need not raise a hammer or a
gavel, or draw a line on the trestle board. His command made known to
his ministers was sufficient to _cause_ the work to be done. Hence the
whole fact is _indicated_ or declared by the single expression, "Solomon
_built_ the temple."

The Imperative mood is unchanged in form. I can say to one man, _go_, or
to a thousand, _go_. The commander when drilling _one_ soldier, says,
_march_; and he bids the whole battalion, _march_. The agent who is _to
perform_ the action is understood when not expressed; as, _go_, _go
thou_, or _go you_. The agent is generally omitted, because the address
is given direct to the person who is expected to obey the instruction,
request, or command. This verb always agrees with an agent in the
_second_ person. And yet our "grammars made easy" have given us _three
persons_ in this mood--"_Let me love_; _love_, _love thou_, or _do_ thou
_love_; let him love." In the name of common sense, I ask, what can
children learn by such instruction? "_Let me love_," in the conjugation
of the verb _to love_! To whom is this command given? To _myself_ of
course! I command myself to "_let me love_!" What nonsense! "Let _him_
love." I stand here, you set there, and the _third_ person is in
Philadelphia. I utter these words, "Let _him love_." What is my meaning?
Why, our books tell us, that the verb to _love_ is _third_ person. Then
I command _him_ to _let himself love_! What jargon and falsehood! You
all know that we can address the _second_ person only. You would call me
insane if I should employ language according to the rules of grammar as
laid down in the standard books. In my room alone, no person near me, I
cry out, "_let me be quiet_"--imperative mood, first person of _to be_!
Do I command myself to _let_ myself _be_ quiet? Most certainly, if _be_
is the principal verb in the first person, and _let_ the auxiliary. The
teacher observes one of his pupils take a pencil from a classmate who
sets near him. He says, "_let him have it_." To whom is the command
given? It is the imperative mood, third person of the verb _to have_.
Does he command the third person, the boy who _has_ not the pencil? Such
is the resolution of the sentence, according to the authority of
standard grammars. But where is there a child five years old who does
not know better. Every body knows that he addresses the second person,
the boy who has the pencil, to _let_ the other _have_ it.

Teachers have learned their scholars the _first_ and _third_ persons of
this mood when committing the conjugation of verbs; but not one in ten
thousand ever adopted them in parsing. "_Let me love._" _Let_, all
parse, Mr. Murray not excepted, in the _second_ person, and _love_ in
the infinitive mood after it, without the sign _to_; according to the
rule, that "verbs which follow _bid_, _dare_, _feel_, _hear_, _let_,
_needs_, _speak_," etc. are in the infinitive mood. It is strange people
will not eat their own cooking.

There can be no trouble in understanding this mood, as we have explained
it, always in the future tense, that is, future to the command or
request, agreeing with the _second_ person, and never varied on account
of number.

The only variation in the infinitive mood is the omission of _to_ in
certain cases, which is considered as a part of the verb; tho in truth
it is no more so than when used in the character of an old fashioned
preposition. In certain cases, as we have before observed, it is not
expressed. This is when the infinitive verb follows small words in
frequent use; as, shall, will, let, can, must, may, bid, do, have, make,
feel, hear, etc.

This mood is always in the future tense; that is, it is future to the
circumstances or condition of things upon which it depends; as, they are
making preparations _to raise_ the building. Here _to raise_ is future
to the preparations, for if they make no preparations, the buildings
will not be raised. The boy studies his book _to learn_ his lesson. If
he does not study, he will not be likely _to learn_ his lesson.

The allied powers of Europe combined their forces _to defeat_ Napoleon.
In this instance the whole expression is in the past tense;
nevertheless, the action expressed in the infinitive mood, _was future_
to the circumstance on which it depended; that is, the _defeat_ was
_future_ to the _combination_ of the forces. Abraham raised the knife
_to slay_ his son. Not that he did _slay_ him, as that sentence must be
explained on the common systems, which teach us that _to slay_ is in the
_present tense_; but he raised the fatal knife for that purpose, the
fulfilment of which was future; but the angel staid his hand, and
averted the blow. The patriots of Poland _made_ a noble attempt _to
gain_ their liberty. But they did not _gain it_, as our grammars would
teach us. _To gain_ was future to the attempt, and failed because the
circumstances _indicated_ by the event, were insufficient to produce so
favorable a result.

No person of common discernment can fail to observe the absolute
falsehood of existing systems in respect to this mood. It is used by our
authors of grammar in the _present_ and _past_ tenses, but never in the
_future_. Let us give a moment to the consideration of this matter. Take
the following example. He _will prepare_ himself next week _to go_ to
Europe. Let the school master parse _will prepare_. It is a verb,
indicative mood, _first future_ tense. _Next week_ is the point in
futurity when the _preparation_ will be _made_. Now parse _to go_. It
is a verb, infinitive mood, _present tense_! Then _he_ is already on his
way to Europe, when he is not _to prepare_ himself till next week! An
army is collected _to fight_ the enemy. Is the fight already commenced?
_To fight_ is present tense, say the books. We shall study grammar next
year, _to obtain_ a knowledge of the principles and use of language. Is
_to obtain_ present tense? If so there is little need of spending time
and money to study for a knowledge we _already possess_.

    "Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
    Man never _is_, but always =to be= blest."

"Who _was_, and who _is_, and who _is_ =to come=."--_Bible._ It is not
that a man thinks himself already in possession of a sufficiency, but
hopes =to be= qualified, etc.

I _am to go_ in an hour. He _is to go_ to-morrow. I _am_ ready _to hear_
you recite your lesson. He _has been waiting_ a long time _to see_ if
some new principles will not be introduced. He is prepared _to appear_
before you whenever you shall direct. We _are_ resolved _to employ_
neuter verbs, potential and subjunctive moods, im-perfect, plu-perfect,
and second future tenses, no longer. False grammars _are_ only fit-_ted
to be_ laid aside. We are in duty bound _to regard_ and _adopt_ truth,
and _reject_ error; and we _are_ determined _to do_ it in grammar, and
every thing else.

We are not surprised that people cannot comprehend grammar, as usually
taught, for it is exceedingly difficult to make error appear like truth,
or false teaching like sound sentiment. But I will not stop to moralize.
The hints I have given must suffice.

Much more might be said upon the character and use of verbs; but as
these lectures are not designed for _a system_ of grammar _to be
taught_, but to expose the errors of existing systems, and prepare the
way for a more rational and consistent exposition of language, I shall
leave this department of our subject, presuming you will be able to
comprehend our views, and appreciate their importance. We have been
somewhat critical in a part of our remarks, and more brief than we
should have been, had we not found that we were claiming too much of the
time of the Institute, which is designed as a means of improvement on
general subjects. Enough has been said, I am sure, to convince you, if
you were not convinced before, why the study of grammar is so intricate
and tedious, that it is to be accounted for from the fact that the
theories by which it is taught are false in principle, and can not be
adopted in practice; and that something ought to be done to make the
study of language easy, interesting, and practical. Such a work is here
attempted; but it remains with the public to say whether these plain
philosophical principles shall be sustained, matured, perfected, and
adopted in schools, or the old roundabout course of useless and
ineffectual teaching be still preserved.



    A temporary expedient.--Words not understood.--All words must have
    a meaning.--Their formation.--Changes of meaning and form.--Should
    be observed.--=Adverbs=.--Ending in _ly_.--Examples.--Ago.--Astray.
    --Awake.--Asleep.--Then, when.--There, where, here.--While,
    till.--Whether, together.--Ever, never, whenever, etc.--Oft.--Hence.
    false.--Rule 18.--If.--But.--Tho.--Yet.

We have concluded our remarks on the necessary divisions of words.
Things _named_, _defined_ and _described_, and their _actions_,
_relations_, and _tendencies_, have been considered under the classes of
Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs. To these classes all words belong when
properly explained; a fact we desire you to bear constantly in mind in
all your attempts to understand and employ language. But there are many
words in our language as well as most others, which are so altered and
disguised that their meaning is not easily comprehended. Of course they
are difficult of explanation. These words we have classed under the head
of _Contractions_, a term better calculated than any other we have seen
adopted to express their character. We do not however lay any stress on
the appropriateness of this appellation, but adopt it as a temporary
expedient, till these words shall be better understood. They will then
be ranked in their proper places among the classes already noticed.

Under this head may be considered the words usually known as "adverbs,
conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections." That the etymology and
meaning of these words have not been generally understood will be
conceded, I presume, on all hands. In our opinion, that is the only
reason why they have been considered under these different heads, for in
numberless cases there is nothing in their import to correspond with
such distinctions. Why "an adverb expresses some _quality_ or
circumstance respecting a verb, adjective, or other adverb;" why "a
conjunction is chiefly used to connect sentences, so as out of _two_ to
make only _one_ sentence;" or why "prepositions serve to connect words
with one another, and show the relation between them," has never been
explained. They have been _passed over_ with little difficulty by
teachers, having been furnished with lists of words in each "part of
speech," which they require their pupils to commit to memory, and "for
ever after hold their peace" concerning them. But that these words have
been defined or explained in a way to be understood will not be
pretended. In justification of such ignorance, it is contended that such
explanation is not essential to their proper and elegant use. If such is
the fact, we may easily account for the incorrect use of language, and
exonerate children from the labor of studying etymology.

But these words have meaning, and sustain a most important rank in the
expression of ideas. They are, generally, abbreviated, compounded, and
so disguised that their origin and formation are not generally known.
Horne Tooke calls them "the _wheels_ of language, the _wings_ of
Mercury." He says "tho we might be dragged along without them, it would
be with much difficulty, very heavily and tediously." But when he
undertakes to show that they were _constructed_ for this object, he
mistakes their true character; for they were not invented for that
purpose, but were originally employed as nouns or verbs, from which they
have been corrupted by use. And he seems to admit this fact when he
says,[19] "_abbreviation_ and _corruption_ are always busiest with the
words which are most frequently in use. Letters, like soldiers, being
very apt to desert and drop off in a long march, and especially if their
passage happens to lie near the confines of an enemy's country."

In the original construction of language a set of literary men did not
get together and manufacture a lot of words, finished thro out and
exactly adapted to the expression of thought. Had that been the case,
language would doubtless have appeared in a much more regular, stiff,
and formal dress, and been deprived of many of its beautiful and lofty
figures, its richest and boldest expressions. Necessity is the mother of
invention. It was not until people had _ideas_ to communicate, that they
sought a medium for the transmission of thought from one to another; and
then such sounds and signs were adopted as would best answer their
purpose. But language was not then framed like a cotton mill, every part
completed before it was set in operation. Single expressions,
_sign_-ificant of things, or _ideas_ of _things_ and _actions_, were
first employed, in the most simple, plain, and easy manner.[20] As the
human mind advanced in knowledge, by observing the character,
relations, and differences of things, words were changed, altered,
compounded, and contracted, so as to keep pace with such advancement;
just as many simple parts of a machine, operating on perfect and
distinct principles, may be combined together and form a most
complicated, curious, and powerful engine, of astonishing power, and
great utility. In the adaptation of steam to locomotives, the principles
on which stationary engines operated were somewhat modified. Some
wheels, shafts, bands, screws, etc., were omitted, others of a different
kind were added, till the whole appeared in a new character, and the
engine, before fixed to a spot, was seen traversing the road with
immense rapidity. The principles of the former engine, so far from being
unessential, were indispensable to the construction of the new one, and
should be clearly understood by him who would build or _use_ the latter.
So, in the formation of language, simple _first_ principles must be
observed and traced thro all their ramifications, by those who would
obtain a clear and thoro knowledge of it, or "read and write it with

In mathematics, the four simple rules, addition, subtraction,
multiplication, and division, form the basis on which that interesting
science depends. The modifications of these rules, according to their
various capabilities, will give a complete knowledge of all that can be
known of numbers, relations, and proportions, an acme to which all may
aspire, tho none have yet attained it. The principles of language are
equally simple, and, if correctly explained, may be as well understood.
But the difficulty under which we labor in this department of science,
is the paucity of _means_ to trace back to their original form and
meaning many words and phrases in common use among us. Language has been
employed as the vehicle of thought, for six thousand years, and in that
long space has undergone many and strange modifications. At the
dispersion from Babel, and the "confusion of tongues" occasioned
thereby, people were thrown upon their own resources, and left to pick
up by piecemeal such shreds as should afterwards be wove into a system,
and adopted by their respective nations. Wars, pestilence, and famine,
as well as commerce, enterprize, literature, and religion, brought the
different nations into intercourse with each other; and changes were
thus produced in the languages of such people. Whoever will take the
trouble to compare the idioms of speech adopted by those nations whose
affairs, civil, political, and religious, are most intimately allied,
will be convinced of the correctness of the sentiment now advanced.

In the lapse of ages, words would not only change their form, but in a
measure their meaning, so as to correspond with the ideas of those who
use them. Some would become obsolete, and others be adopted in their
stead. Many words are found in the Bible which are not in common use;
and the manner of spelling, as well as some entire words, have been
changed in that book, since it was translated and first published in
1610. With these examples you are familiar, and I shall be spared the
necessity of quoting them. I have already made some extracts from old
writers, and may have occasion to do so again before I close this

The words which we class under the head of Contractions, are so altered
and disguised in their appearance, that their etymology and connexion
are not generally understood. It may appear like pedantry in me to
attempt an investigation into their origin and meaning. But to avoid
that charge, I will frankly acknowledge the truth, and own my inability
to do justice to this subject, by offering a full explanation of all the
words which belong to this class. I will be candid, if I am not
successful. But I think most of the words long considered difficult, may
be easily explained; enough to convince you of the feasibility of the
ground we have assumed, and furnish a sample by which to pursue the
subject in all our future inquiries into the etymology of words.

But even if I fail in this matter, I shall have one comfort left, that I
am not alone in the transgression; for no philologist, with few
exceptions, has done any thing like justice to this subject. Our common
grammars have not even attempted an inquiry into the _meaning_ of these
words, but have treated them as tho they had none. Classes, like pens or
reservoirs, are made for them, into which they are thrown, and allowed
to rest, only to be named, without being disturbed. Sometimes, however,
they are found in one enclosure, sometimes in another, more by mistake,
I apprehend, than by intention; for "prepositions" under certain
circumstances are parsed as "adverbs," and "adverbs" as "adjectives,"
and "conjunctions" as either "adverbs" or "prepositions;" and not
unfrequently the whole go off together, like the tail of the dragon,
drawing other respectable words along with them, under the sweeping
cognomen of "adverbial phrases," or "conjunctive expressions;" as, Can
you write your lesson? _Not yet quite well enough._ "_But and if_ that
evil servant,"[21] etc. Mr. Murray says, "the same word is occasionally
used _both as_ a conjunction _and as_ an adverb, and sometimes _as_ a

Let these words be correctly defined, their meaning be ferreted out from
the rubbish in which they have been enclosed; or have their dismembered
parts restored to them, they will then appear in their true character,
and their connexion with other words will be found regular and easy.
Until such work is accomplished, they may as well be called
contractions, for such they _mostly_ are, as adverbs or any thing else;
for that appellation we regard as more appropriate than any other.

In the attempts we are about to make, we shall endeavor to be guided by
sound philosophic principles and the light of patient investigation; and
whatever advances we may make shall be in strict accordance with the
true and practical use of these words.

Let us begin with _Adverbs_.

I have not time to go into a thoro investigation of the mistakes into
which grammarians have fallen in their attempts to explain this "part of
speech." Mr. Murray says they "seem originally to have been _contrived_
to express compendiously in _one word_, what must _otherwise_ have
required two or more; as, "he acted _wisely_." They could have been
"_contrived_" for no such purpose, for we have already seen that they
are made up of various words combined together, which are used to
express relation, to define or describe other things. Take the very
example Mr. M. has given. _Wisely_ is made up of two words; _wise_ and
_like_. "He acted wisely," wise-like. What did he _act_? _Wisely_, we
are taught, expresses the "_manner_ or quality" of the verb _act_. But
_act_, in this case, is a neuter or intransitive verb, and _wisely_
expresses the _manner of action_ where there is none! But he must have
_acted something_ which was _wise_ like something else. What did he act?
If he produced no _actions_, how can it be known that he _acted_ wisely
or unwisely? _Action_ or _acts_ is the direct object of to _act_. Hence
the sentence fully stated would stand thus: "He acted _acts_ or
_actions_ like wise actions or acts." But stated at length, it appears
aukward and clumsy, like old fashioned vehicles. We have modified,
improved, cut down, and made eliptical, all of our expressions, as we
have previously observed, to suit the fashions and customs of the age in
which we live; the same as tailors cut our garments to correspond with
the latest fashions.

"The bird sings _sweetly_." The bird sings _songs_, _notes_, or _tunes_,
_like sweet notes_, _tunes,_ or _songs_. The comparison here made, is
not in reference to the agent or action, but the _object_ of the action;
and this explains the whole theory of those _adverbs_, which are said to
"qualify manner" of action. We have already seen that no _action_, as
such, can exist, or be conceived to exist, separate(-ed) from the
_thing_ or _agent_ which _acts_; and such action can only be determined
by the _changed_ or altered condition of something which is the _object_
of such action. How then, can any word, in truth, or in thought, be
known to _qualify_ the action, as distinct from the object or agent? And
if it does not in _fact_, how can we explain words to children, or to
our own minds, so as to understand what is not true?

Hence all words of this character are adjectives, describing one thing
by its relation or likeness to another, and as such, admit of
comparison; as, a likely man, a _very_ likely man, a likelier, and the
_likeliest_ man. "He is the _most likely_ pedlar I ever knew." "He is
_more liable_ to be deceived." "A _lively_ little fellow." "He is
worthless." He is worth less, _less worthy_ of respect and confidence.
"He writes very correctly." He writes his letters and words _like very
correct_ letters. But I need not enlarge. You have only to bear in mind
the fact, that _ly_ is a contraction of _like_, which is often retained
in many words; as god_like_, christian_like_, etc., and search for a
definition accordingly; and you will find no trouble in disposing of a
large portion of this adverb family.

It is a curious fact, and should be maturely considered by all who still
adhere to the neuter verb theory, that adverbs _qualify neuter_ as well
as active verbs, and express the _quality_ or _manner of action_, where
there is none! Adverbs express "manner of action" in a neuter verb! When
a person starts wrong it is very difficult to go right. The safest
course is to return back and start again.

Adverbs have been divided into classes, varying from _eleven_ to
_seventy-two_, to suit the fancies of those who have only observed the
nice shades of form which these words have assumed. But a bonnet is a
bonnet, let its shape, form, or fashion, be what it may. You may put on
as many trimmings, flowers, bows, and ribbons, as you please; it is a
bonnet still; and when we speak of it we will call it a _bonnet_, and
talk about its _appendages_. But when it is constructed into something
else, then we will give it a new name.

Adjectives, we have said, are _derived_ from either nouns or verbs, and
we now contend that the words formerly regarded as adverbs are either
adjectives, nouns, or verbs. In defence of this sentiment we will
adduce a few words in this place for examples.

=Ago.= "Three years _ago_, we dwelt in the country." This word is a past
participle from the verb _ago_, meaning the same as _gone_ or _agone_,
and was so used a few centuries _ago_--_agone_, or _gone by_.

    "For euer the latter ende of ioye is wo,
    God wotte, worldly ioye is soone _ago_."

    "For if it erst was well, tho was it bet
    A thousand folde, this nedeth it not require
    _Ago_ was euery sorowe and euery fere."
                              _Troylus, boke 3, p. 2._

    "Of such examples as I finde
    Upon this point of tyme _agone_
    I thinke for to tellen one."
                              _Gower_, lib. 5, p. 1.

    "Which is no more than has been done
    By knights for ladies, long _agone_."

    "Twenty years _agone_."
                              _Tillotson's sermon._

    "Are all _the go_."

=Astray.= "They went astray." _Astrayed_, wandered or were scattered,
and of course soon became _estranged_ from each other. Farmers all know
what it is for cattle to _stray_ from home; and many parents have felt
the keen pangs of sorrow when their sons _strayed_ from the paths of
virtue. In that condition they are _astray-ed_.

    "This prest was drank and goth _astrayede_."

    "Achab to the bottle went.
    When Benedad for all his shelde
    Him slough, so that upon the felde
    His people goth aboute _astraie_."

=Awake.= "He is _awake_." "Samson _awaked_ out of his sleep." "That I
may _awake_ him out of sleep." "It is high time to _awake_." "As a man
that is _wakened_ out of sleep." The Irish hold _a wake_--they do not
sleep the night after the loss of friends.


    "When that pyte, which longe _on sleep_ doth tary
    Hath set the fyne of al my heuynesse."
                              _Chaucer, La belle dame, p. 1. c. 1._

    "Ful sound _on sleep_ did caucht thare rest be kind."
                              _Douglas_, b. 9, p. 283.

"In these provynces the fayth of Chryste was all quenchyd and _in

A numerous portion of these contractions are nouns, which, from their
frequent recurrence, are used without their usual connexion with small
words. The letter _a_ is compounded with many of these words, which may
have been joined to them by habit, or as a preposition, meaning _on_,
_to_, _at_, _in_, as it is used in the french and some other languages.
You often hear expressions like these, "he is _a_-going; he is
_a_-writing; he began _a_-new," etc. The old adverbs which take this
letter, you can easily analyze; as, "The house is _a_-fire"--on fire;
"He fell _a_-sleep"--he fell _on_ sleep. "When deep sleep falleth on
men."--_Job._ "He stept _a_-side"--on one side. "He came _a_-board"--on
board. "They put it _a_-foot"--on foot. "He went _a_-way"--a way,
followed some _course_, to a distance. "Blue bonnets are all the _go_
now _a_-days," etc.

The following extracts will give you an idea of the etymology of these

    "Turnus seyes the Troianis in grete yre,
    And al thare schyppis and navy set _in fire_."
                              _Douglas_, b. 9, p. 274.

    "Now hand in hand the dynt lichtis with _ane_ swak,
    Now bendis he up his bourdon with _ane_ mynt,
    _On side_ (a-side) he bradis for to eschew the dynt."

    "That easter fire and flame aboute
    Both at mouth and at nase
    So that thei setten all _on blaze_," (ablaze.)

    "And tyl a wicked deth him take
    _Him had_ leuer _asondre_ (a-sunder) shake
    And let al his lymmes _asondre_ ryue
    Thane leaue his richesse in his lyue."

Examples of this kind might be multiplied to an indefinite length. But
the above will suffice to give you an idea of the former use of these
words, and also, by comparison with the present, of the changes which
have taken place in the method of spelling within a few centuries.

A large portion of adverbs relate to _time_ and _place_, because many of
our ideas, and much of our language, are employed in reference to them;
as, _then_, _when_, _where_, _there_, _here_, _hence_, _whence_,
_thence_, _while_, _till_, _whether_, etc. These are compound words
considerably disguised in their meaning and formation. Let us briefly
notice some of them.

_Per annum_ is a latin phrase, _for the year_, a _year_; and _the annum_
is _the year_, _round_ or _period_ of time, from which it was corrupted
gradually into its present shape. _Thanne_, tha anne, _thane_, _thenne_,
_then_, _than_, are different forms of the same word.

"We see nowe bi a mirror in darcnesse: thanne forsathe, face to face.
Nowe I know of partye; _thanne_ forsathe schal know as I am knowen."--1.
Cor. 13: 12. _Translation in 1350._

I have a translation of the same passage in 1586, which stands thus:
"For nowe we see through a glasse darkley: but _thene_ face to face: now
I know in part: but _then_ shal I know even as I am knowen." Here
several words are spelled differently in the same verse.

=Then=, _the anne_, that time. =When=, _wha anne_, "_wha-icht-anne_,"
which, or what _anne_, period of time.

_Area_ means an open space, a plat of ground, a spot or place. Arena is
from the same etymon, altered in application. =There=, _the area_, the
_place_ or _spot_. "If we go _there_," to that place. =Where=, which, or
what ("wha-icht area") place. =Here=, _his_ (latin word for _this_,)
_area_, this place. These words refer to _place_, _state_, or

_While_ is another spelling for _wheel_. "To while away our time," is to
_pass_, spend, or _wheel_ it away. _While_ applies to the _period_, or
space of time, in which something _wheels_, _whirls_, _turns_ round, or
transpires; as, "You had better remain here _while_ (during the time) he
examines whether it is prudent for you to go."

=Till= is _to while_, to the _period_ at which something is expected to
follow. "If I will that he tarry _till_ (to the time) I come what is
that to thee?"

The idea of _time_ and _place_ are often blended together. It is not
uncommon to hear lads and professed scholars, in some parts of our
country say "down _till_ the bottom, over _till_ the woods." etc. Altho
we do not regard such expressions correct, yet they serve to explain the
meaning of the word. The only mistake is in applying it to _place_
instead of _time_.

=Whether= is _which either_. "Shew _whether_ of these _two_ thou hast
chosen."--_Acts 1: 24._ It is more frequently applied in modern times to
circumstance and events _than to_ persons and things. "I will let you
know _whether_ I _will_ or _will not_ adopt it," one or the other.

=Together= signifies two or more united. _Gethered_ is the past
participle of _gather_.

    "As Mailie, an' her lambs _thegither_,
    Were ae day nibbling on the tether."

=Ever= means _time_, _age_, _period_. It originally and essentially
signified _life_. _For ever_ is for the age or period. _For ever_ and
_ever_, to the ages of ages. _Ever-lasting_ is _age-lasting_.
Ever-lasting hills, snows, landmarks, etc.

=Never=, _ne-ever_, _not ever_, at no time, age or period.

=When-ever.=--At what point or space of _time_ or _age_.

=What-ever.=--What thing, fact, circumstance, or event.

=Where-ever.=--To, at, or in what place, period, age, or time.

=Whither-so-ever=, which-way-so-ever, where-so-ever, never-the-less,
etc. need only be analyzed, and their meaning will appear obvious to

=Oft=, _often_, _oft-times_, often-_times_, can be understood by all,
because the noun to which they belong is _oft-en_ retained in practice.

=Once=, twice, at one time, two times.

=Hence=, _thence_, _whence_, from _this_, _that_, or _what_, place,
spot, circumstance, post, or starting place.

=Hence-for-ward=, _hence-forth_, in time _to come_, after this period.

=Here-after=, after this _era_, or present time.

=Hither=, to this spot or place. _Thither_, to that place. _Hither-to_,
_hither-ward_, etc. the same as _to you ward_, or to God ward, still
retained in our bibles.

=Per-haps=, it may hap. _Perchance_, _peradventure_, by chance, by
adventure. The latin _per_ means _by_.

=Not=, no ought, not any, nothing. It is a compound of _ne_ and _ought_
or _a_ught.

=Or= is a contraction from other, and _nor_ from _ne-or_, no-or, no

=No-wise=, no ways. I will go, or, other-wise, in another way or manner,
you must go.

=Than=, _the ane_, the one, that one, alluding to a particular object
with which a comparison is made; as, This book is larger _than_ that
bible. That _one_ bible, this book is larger. It is always used with the
comparative degree, to define particularly the object with which the
comparison is made. Talent is better than flattery. Than flattery, often
bestowed regardless of merit, talent is better.

=As= is an adjective, in extensive use. It means the, this, that, these,
the same, etc. It is a defining word of the first kind. You practice
_as_ you have been taught--_the same duties_ or _principles_ understood.
We use language _as_ we have learned it; in _the same_ way or manner. It
is often associated with other words to particularly specify the way,
manner, or degree, in which something is done or compared. I can go _as
well as_ you. In _the same well_, easy, convenient way or manner you can
go, I can go in _the same_ way. He was _as_ learned, _as_ pious, _as_
benevolent, _as_ brave, _as_ faithful, _as_ ardent. These are purely
adjectives, used to denote the degree of the likeness or similarity
between the things compared. Secondary words are often added to this, to
aid the distinction or definition; as, (_the same_ illustrated,) He is
_just as willing_. I am _quite as well_ pleased without it. _As_, like
many other adjectives, often occurs without a noun expressed, in which
case it was formerly parsed by Murray himself _as_ (like, or the same) a
relative pronoun; as, "And indeed it seldom at any period extends to the
tip, _as happens_ in acute diseases."--_Dr. Sweetster._ "The ground I
have assumed is tenable, _as will appear_."--_Webster._ "Bonaparte had
a special motive in decorating Paris, for 'Paris is France, _as has_
often been observed."--_Channing._ "The words are such _as
seem_."--_Murray's Reader! p. 16, intro._

=So= has nearly the same signification as the word last noticed, and is
frequently used along with it, to define the other member of the
comparison. _As_ far _as_ I can understand, _so_ far I approve. _As_ he
directed, _so_ I obeyed. It very often occurs as a secondary adjective;
as, "In pious and benevolent offices _so_ simple, _so_ minute, _so_
steady, _so_ habitual, that they will carry," etc. "He pursued a course
_so_ unvarying."--_Channing._

These words are the most important of any small ones in our vocabulary,
because (_for this cause_, be this the cause, this is the cause) they
are the most frequently used; and yet there are no words _so_ little
understood, or _so_ much abused by grammarians, _as_ these are.

We have barely time to notice the remaining parts of speech.
"Conjunctions" are defined to be a "part of speech void of
signification, but so formed as to help signification, by making two or
more significant sentences to be one significant sentence." Mr. Harris
gives about forty "species." Murray admits of only the _dis_-junctive
and copulative, and reduces the whole list of words to twenty-four. But
what is meant by a _dis_-junctive _con_-junctive word, is left for you
to determine. It must be in keeping with _in_definite _defining_
articles, and _post_-positive _pre_-positions. He says, "it joins words,
but disjoins the sense."[22] And what is a _word_ with out _sense_,"
pray tell us? If "words are the signs of ideas," how, in the name of
reason, can you give the sign and separate the sense? You can as well
separate the shadow from the substance, or a quality from matter.

We have already noticed Rule 18, which teaches the use of
conjunctions. Under that rule, you may examine these examples. "As it
_was_ in the beginning, _is_ now, _and_ ever _shall be_."--_Common
Prayer._ "What I _do_, _have done,_ or _may_ hereafter _do_, _has
been_, and _will_ always _be_ matter of inclination, the gratifying of
which _pays_ itself: and I _have_ no more merit in employing my time
and money in the way I _am known_ to do, than another has in other

The following examples must suffice.

=If.= This word is derived from the saxon _gifan_, and was formerly
written _giff_, _gyff_, _gif_, _geve_, _give_, _yiff_, _yef_, _yeve_. It
signifies _give_, _grant_, _allow_, _suppose_, _admit_, and is always a
verb in the imperative mood, having the following sentence or idea for
its object. "_If_ a pound of sugar cost ten cents, what will ten pounds
cost?" _Give_, grant, allow, suppose, (the fact,) _one pound cost_, etc.
In this case the supposition which stands as a predicate--_one pound of
sugar cost ten cents_, is the object of _if_--the thing to be allowed,
supposed, or granted, and from which the conclusion as to the cost of
_ten_ pounds is to be drawn.

"He will assist us if he has the means." Allow, admit, (the fact,) he
has the means, he will assist us.

    "_Gif_ luf be vertew, than is it leful thing;
    _Gif_ it be vice, it is your undoing."
                              _Douglas_ p. 95.

    "Ne I ne wol non reherce, _yef_ that I may."

    "She was so charitable and so pytous
    She wolde wepe _yf that_ she sawe a mous
    Caught in a trappe, _if_ it were deed or bledde."

    "O haste and come to my master dear."

    "_Gin_ ye be Barbara Allen."

=But.= This word has two opposite significations. It is derived from two
different radicals. _But_, from the saxon _be_ and _utan_, _out_, means
_be out_, _leave out_, _save_, _except_, _omit_, as, "all _but_ one are
here." _Leave out_, _except_, _one_, all are here.

    "Heaven from all creation hides the book of fate
    All _but_ (_save_, _except_) the page prescribed our present state."

    "When nought _but_ (_leave out_) the _torrent_ is heard on the hill,
    And nought _but_ (_save_) the nightingale's _song_ in the grove."

"Nothing _but fear_ restrains him." In these cases the direct _objects_
of the verb, the things to be omitted are expressed.

_But_ is also derived from _botan_, which signifies _to add_,
_superadd_, _join_ or _unite_; as, in the old form of a deed, "it is
_butted_ and bounded as follows." Two animals _butt_ their heads
together. The _butt_ of a log is that end which was _joined_ to the
stump. A _butt_, _butment_ or _a-butment_ is the joined end, where there
is a connexion with something else. A _butt_ of ridicule is an object to
which ridicule is attached.

    "Not only saw he all that was,
    _But (add) much_ that never came to pass."

_To button_, _butt-on_, is derived from the same word, to join one side
to the other, to fasten together. It was formerly spelled _botan_,
_boote_, _bote_, _bot_, _butte_, _bute_, _but_. It is still spelled
_boot_ in certain cases as a verb; as,

    "What _boots it_ thee to fly from pole to pole,
    Hang o'er the earth, and with the planets roll?
    What boots ( ) thro space's fartherest bourns to roam,
    _If_ thou, O man, a stranger art at home?"

    "If love had _booted_ care or cost."

A man exchanged his house in the city for a farm, and received fifty
dollars to _boot_; _to add_ to his property, and make the exchange

_Let_ presents the same construction in form and meaning as _but_, for
it is derived from two radicals of opposite significations. It means
sometimes to _permit_ or _allow_; as, _let_ me go; _let_ me have it; and
to _hinder_ or _prevent_; as, "I proposed to come unto you, _but_ (add
this fact) I was _let_ hitherto."--_Rom. 1: 13._ "He who now _letteth_,
will _let_ until he be taken out of the way."--_2 Thess. 2: 7._

=And= is a past participle signifying _added_, _one-ed_, _joined_. It
was formerly placed after the words; as, "James, John, David, _and_,
(_united to-_gether_-ed_,) go to school." We now place it _before_ the
last word.

=Tho=, _altho_, _yet_. "Tho (_admit_, _allow_, _the fact_) he slay me,
yet (_get_, _have_, _know_, _the fact_) I will trust in him." _Yes_ is
from the same word as _yet_. It means _get_ or _have_ my consent to the
question asked. _Nay_ is the opposite of _yes_, _ne_-aye, nay, no. The
_ayes_ and _noes_ were called for.

I can pursue this matter no farther. The limits assigned me have been
overrun already. What light may have been afforded you in relation to
these words, will enable you to discover that they have _meaning_ which
must be learned before they can be explained correctly; that done, all
difficulty is removed.

Interjections deserve no attention. They form no part of language, but
may be used by beasts and birds as well as by men. They are indistinct
utterances of emotions, which come not within the range of human speech.


[1]  The reader is referred to "The Red Book," by William Bearcroft,
     revised by Daniel H. Barnes, late of the New-York High School, as a
     correct system of teaching practical orthography.

[2]  Gall, Spurzheim, and Combe, have reflected a light upon the science
     of the mind, which cannot fail of beneficial results. Tho the
     doctrines of phrenology, as now taught, may prove false--which is
     quite doubtful--or receive extensive modifications, yet the
     consequences to the philosophy of the mind will be vastly useful.
     The very terms employed to express the faculties and affections of
     the mind, are so definite and clear, that phrenology will long
     deserve peculiar regard, if for no other reason than for the
     introduction of a vocabulary, from which may be selected words for
     the communication of ideas upon intellectual subjects.

[3]  Metaphysics originally signified the science of the causes and
     principles of all things. Afterwards it was confined to the
     philosophy of the mind. In our times it has obtained still another
     meaning. Metaphysicians became so abstruse, bewildered, and lost,
     that nobody could understand them; and hence, _metaphysical_ is now
     applied to whatever is abstruse, doubtful, and unintelligible. If a
     speaker is not understood, it is because he is too metaphysical.
     "How did you like the sermon, yesterday?" "Tolerably well; but he
     was too metaphysical for common hearers." They could not understand

[4]  In this respect, many foreign languages possess a great advantage
     over ours. They can augment or diminish the same word to increase
     or lessen the meaning. For instance; in the Spanish, we can say
     _Hombre_, a man; _Hombron_, a _large_ man; _Hombrecito_, a _young_
     man, or youth; _Hombrecillo_, a _miserable little_ man; _Pagaro_, a
     bird; _Pagarito_, a _pretty little_ bird; _Perro_, a dog;
     _Perrillo_, an _ugly little_ dog; _Perrazo_, a _large_ dog.

     The Indian languages admit of diminutives in a similar way. In the
     Delaware dialect, they are formed by the suffix _tit_, in the class
     of animate nouns; but by _es_, to the inanimate; as, _Senno_, a
     man; _Sennotit_, a _little_ man; _Wikwam_, a house; _Wikwames_, a
     _small_ house.--_Enc. Amer. Art. Indian Languages, vol. 6, p. 586._

[5]  Mr. Harris, in his "Hermes," says, "A preposition is a part of
     speech, _devoid itself of signification_; but so formed as to unite
     two words that are significant, and that refuse to coalesce or
     unite themselves."

     Mr. Murray says, "Prepositions serve to _connect_ words with one
     another, and show the relation between them."

[6]  "Me thou shalt use in what thou wilt, and doe that with a slender
     _twist_, that none can doe with a tough _with_."
                                   _Euphues and his England, p. 136._

     "They had arms under the straw in the boats, and had cut the
     _withes_ that held the oars of the town boats, to prevent any
                                   _Ludlow's Memoirs, p. 435._

     "The only furniture belonging to the houses, appears to be an
     oblong vessel made of bark, by tying up the ends with a _withe_."
                                   _Cooke's Description of Botany Bay._

[7]  See Galatians, chap. 1, verse 15. "When it pleased God, who
     _separated_ me," &c.

[8]  Acts, xvii, 28.

[9]  St. Pierre's Studies of Nature.--Dr. Hunter's translation, pp.

[10] It is reported on very good authority that the same olive trees
     are now standing in the garden of Gethsemane under which the
     Saviour wept and near which he was betrayed. This is rendered more
     probable from the fact, that a tax is laid, by the Ottoman Porte,
     on all olive trees planted since Palestine passed into the
     possession of the Turks, and that several trees standing in
     Gethsemane do not pay such tribute, while all others do.

[11] We do not assent to the notions of ancient philosophers and poets,
     who believed the doctrine that the world is animated by a soul,
     like the human body, which is the spirit of Deity himself; but that
     by the operation of wise and perfect laws, he exerts a supervision
     in the creation and preservation of all things animate and
     inanimate. Virgil stated the opinions of his times, in his Æneid,
     B. VI. l. 724.

         "Principio coelum, ac terras, camposque liquentes,
         Lucentemque globum, Lunæ, Titaniaque astra
         Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
         Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet."

         "Know, first, that heaven, and earth's compacted frame,
         And flowing waters, and the starry flame,
         And both the radiant lights, _one common soul_
         Inspires and feeds--and _animates the whole_.
         This active mind, infused thro all the space,
         Unites and mingles with the mighty mass."
                                    _Dryden_, b. VI. l. 980.

     This sentiment, he probably borrowed from Pythagoras and Plato, who
     argue the same sentiment, and divide this spirit into
     "_intellectus_, _intelligentia_, et _natura_"--intellectual,
     intelligent, and natural. Whence, "_Ex hoc Deo, qui est mundi
     anima: quasi decerptæ particulæ sunt vitæ hominum et pecudum._" Or,
     "Omnia animalia ex quatuor elementis et _divino spiritu_ constare
     manifestum est. Trahunt enim a terra carnem, ab aqua humorem, ab
     ære anhelitum, ab igne fervorem, _a divino spiritu
     ingenium_."--_Timeus, chap. 24, and Virgil's Geor. b. 4, l. 220,
     Dryden's trans. l. 322._

     Pope alludes to the same opinion in these lines:

         "All are but parts of one stupendous whole.
         Whose body nature is, and God the soul."

[12] Page 41.

[13] Exodus, iii. 2, 3.

[14] Cardell's grammar.

[15] The Jews long preserved this name in Samaritan letters to keep it
     from being known to strangers. The modern Jews affirm that by this
     mysterious name, engraven on his rod, Moses performed the wonders
     recorded of him; that Jesus stole the name from the temple and put
     it into his thigh between the flesh and skin, and by its power
     accomplished the miracles attributed to him. They think if they
     could pronounce the word correctly, the very heavens and earth
     would tremble, and angels be filled with terror.

[16] Plutarch says, "This title is not only _proper_ but _peculiar to
     God_, because =He= alone is _being_; for mortals have no
     participation of _true being_, because that which _begins_ and
     _ends_, and is constantly _changing_, is never _one_ nor the
     _same_, nor in the same state. The deity on whose temple this word
     was inscribed was called =Apollo=, Apollon, from _a_ negative and
     _pollus_, _many_, because God is =one=, his nature simple, and
     _uncompounded_."--_Vide, Clark's Com._

[17] The same fact may be observed in other languages, for all people
     form language alike, in a way to correspond with their ideas. The
     following hasty examples will illustrate this point.

                _Agent._         _Verb._        _Object._
     _English_  Singers          Sing           Songs
     _French_   Les chanteurs    Chantent       Les chansons
     _Spanish_  Los cantores     Cantan         Las cantinelas
     _Italian_  I cantori        Cantano        I canti
     _Latin_    Cantores         Canunt         Cantus

     _English_  Givers           Give           Gifts
     _French_   Les donneurs     Donnent        Les dons
     _Spanish_  Los donadores    Dan o donan    Los dones
     _Italian_  I danatori       Dano o danano  I doni
     _Latin_    Datores          Donant         Dona

     _English_  Fishers          Fish           Fishes
     _French_   Les pecheurs     Pechent        Les poissons
     _Spanish_  Los pescadores   Pescan         Los peces
     _Italian_  I pescatori      Pescan         I pesci
     _Latin_    Piscatores       Piscantur      Pisces

     _English_  Students         Study          Studies
     _French_   Les etudiens     Etudient       Les etudes
     _Spanish_  Los estudiantes  Estudian       Los estudios
     _Italian_  I studienti      Studiano       I studii
     _Latin_    Studiosi         Student        Studia

[18] Mr. Murray says, "These compounds," _have_, _shall_, _will_,
     _may_, _can_, _must_, _had_, _might_, _could_, _would_, and
     _should_, which he uses as auxiliaries to _help_ conjugate _other_
     verbs, "are, however, to be considered as _different forms_ of the
     _same_ verb." I should like to know, if these words have any thing
     to do with the _principal_ verbs; if they only alter the _form_ of
     the verb which follows them. I _may_, _can_, _must_, _shall_,
     _will_, or _do love_. Are these only different forms of _love_? or
     rather, are they not distinct, important, and original verbs, pure
     and perfect _in_ and _of_ themselves? Ask for their etymons and
     meaning, and then decide.

[19] Diversions of Purley, vol. 1, p. 77.

[20] Dr. Edwards observes, in a communication to the Connecticut Society
     of Arts and Sciences, from personal knowledge, that "the Mohegans
     (Indians) have _no adjectives_ in all their language. Altho it may
     at first seem not only singular and curious, but impossible, that a
     language should exist without adjectives, yet it is an indubitable
     fact." But it is proved that in later times the Indians employ
     adjectives, derived from nouns or verbs, as well as other nations.
     Altho many of their dialects are copious and harmonious, yet they
     suffered no inconvenience from a want of contracted words and
     phrases. They added the ideas of definition and description to the
     things themselves, and expressed them in the _same_ word, in a
     modified form.

[21] Matthew, chap. 24, v. 48.

[22] Examples of a _dis_-junctive conjunction. "They came with her,
     _but_ they went without her."--_Murray._

     Murray is _wrong_, _and_ Cardell is _right_. The simplifiers are
     wrong, _but_ their standard is so likewise.

     "Me he restored to my office, _and_ him he hanged."--_Pharaoh's


The following printer's errors have been corrected in this etext.
Changes are indicated in brackets.


Lecture I      process of time as ingle [a single]
               will not unfrequenly [unfrequently] represent

Lecture III    German, Danish, Dutch, Sweedish [Swedish]

Lecture V      _David_ killed Goliah [Goliath]

Lecture VI     and cosinder [consider] them in this place

Lecture VII    We are told there are are [are] two articles
               the mother is _mascu.line_ [masculine]
               dress handkerchief.["] The resolution

Lecture VIII   object will be to ascertion [ascertain]
               ["]But wherefore _sits he_ there?
               act _transitively_, acording [according] to

Lecture IX     the pocket of Guy Fawks [Fawkes]
               For we should rember [remember]
               _looks_ like or _resembles_ his brother,["]

Lecture X      A philosophical axiom[.]--Manner
               And our languge [language] should
               ["]I have addressed this volume

Lecture XI     Be not surprized [surprised] when I tell you

Lecture XII    the qualifification [qualification] of an _adverb_,
               --"express neither actionn [action] or passion."

Lecture XIV    trace back to their orignal [original] form
               ["]He stept _a_-side"
               ["]As Mailie, an' her lambs
               ["]Not only saw he all that was,

Footnote 22    Murray is _wroug_ [wrong]

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software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.