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as real action; and the thing affected by such action or movement, whether the moving body, or any other portion of matter, is the object of the verb.
217. Philosophically and strictly speaking, every action must be contemplated as producing two or more effects; as, water in evaporating, turns itself to vapor, exhausts itself, and increases the bulk of air with which it mingles itself, and to which it imparts its qualities. But, in the structure of speech, one effect is referred to, as connected with the verbal affirmation. No action or movement can be produced, without both a mover, and some thing moved: consequently, there can be no verb without both a subject and an object, expressed or irresistibly inferred.
All objections, apparent exceptions, and minor applications, which can be imagined, will not contradict this general proposition. To say that a verb has no object, is to assert that an efficient cause may operate without producing any effect: for if the cause was not efficient, it would not produce the action.
218. In the practical adaptation of this broad rule, to the several classes of things, actions or affirmations are to be understood as applying to various subjects, according to their general nature and qualities.
This reference to the different classes of things, extends only to minor circumstances, and never varies the leading principles before laid down.
Man moves himself, and acts his part, in various ways, according to the impulse of his fancy, or the determinations of his judgment: An or seeks the shade, by animal instinct or aptitude, to obviate a bodily suffering which he feels: a stone, thrown into the air, falls to the earth, and
would fall to the center of attraction, if not resisted by some prevailing obstruction. Iron sinks in the water, and a chip rises and swims on the surface; not like the man or the ox, by voluntary power of locomotion: but by an inherent tendency to take certain positions according to their specific weight.
219. Even where perceivable action does not, in the special case, exist, that is, where two active
principles balance each other, the structure of
speech, according to its prevailing rules, always supposes real activity; and consequently includes both actor and object.
Perhaps of all the words which the opposer could offer, the verb to lie, in place, should seem to be one of the most difficult to explain. The intricacy with this, and every other verb, ceases, as soon as the meaning of the word is understood. To lie, Saxon liegan; French lier; Latin ligo ; means, to bind, to tie, fasten, hold, fix or keep in place. The noun lien, from the Norman French, a tie, hold or claim, is still retained, as a law term. There is indeed an awkwardness in using the object of the verb lie, on account of its accidental interference with other verbs : but this circumstance does not in the least degree affect the general principle.
220. The action to lie, like other movements, may be directed by reason, animal aptitude, or essential qualities. The soldier lies down, (prostrates himself) in his intrenchment, that balls may pass over him. The tiger lies, (conceals himself.) in wait for his prey. The lever lies, (keeps itself) on the deck; because it has not sufficient
specific gravity to go through it, and it is too heavy
221. It is no matter by what remote or prime cause an action is produced. The main spring of the watch vibrates the crown wheel; the whole machinery moves; and the hands point the hours. The factory water-wheel turns the trundle head: the bands move round the drum; and the throstle
*frame twists the yarn. In all this bustle of activ
ity, nothing appears, but mere inanimate operators; producing their effects, in sucession, from the water, which forces itself on the buckets, to every spindle in the cotton mill.
222. Language applies to these objects, as they appear, and as they are, moving and moved. A speech could not be framed with appropriate reference to each particular subject; or adapted, like a system of jurisprudence, to the motives of activity. The greatest philosopher would be very slow of speech, if it was necessary to use verbs with strict reference to the secret springs of action. The freight that sinks the ship, acts with no other kind of power than the lever which lies on the deck; that is, by its force of gravitation.
223. In the movements of the natural world. - -
there is no neutrality. The stupendous machine of the universe, and every portion of matter of which it is composed, are constantly in action, according to the oppositely harmonious laws of gravitation, propulsion, affinity, cohesion, electricity, and other influences, some yet unknown to human thought. Through all parts of this measureless whole, is a succession of continuous actions, from each microscopic atom, of unnumbered intervolving worlds, to the Eternal, Unseen, Guiding Hand.
224. As in the great system of nature, so in the transmission of thought, every thing is regarded as possessing an acting power, and as capable of exercising some kind and degree of option. There is a philosophic reason why the statue sustains itself, still in its place, instead of conveying itself away, like its living antetype; and on the most rigid scrutiny of the intellectual powers, it will be found that the Author of Mind, by a barrier which never can be passed, has compelled us to ascribe in speech, to marble and bronze, that species of choice which belongs to the aptitude of their nature.
In many minor particulars, it is well that verbal expression has réceived its main cast, not in the schools of half-way learning, but among plain men, applying its principles, in the only way in which finite wisdom could properly apply them, to the op
erations in nature, as they are seen, heard, and selt.
225. The whole system of explanation upon verbs, and consequently the whole theory of speech, as taught among the European nations, appears to be remarkably unphilosophic and contrary to the appearance of truth. Dr. Johnson, and all the principal British expounders of language, agree in giving “revolve,” to roll round in a circle, as a neuter verb. According to this grammatical astronomy, then, the earth performs its revolution round the sun, without the least possible effect, change, or resulting influence, wrought upon itself. or any other object. Such a system of instruction, when followed into its consequences, is derogatory to the Divine Wisdom, as well as directly at varience with the dictates of common sense. These errors are not peculiar to England. The same inconsistent theory prevails through all the universities and royal academies of Europe. Let the learned teachers of language turn practical philoso
phers; make with fire any experiment they please, and satisfy themselves if they can, that burn is ever a neuter verb. If persons allow themselves to think, it certainly requires but little logic or knowledge to perceive that in the action of rolling, some substance must be rolled; and some thing, in every sinking, must be sunk. Whatever that thing is, is the object of the verb; and to say that a verb has no object, is as contrary to science, as to assert that two straight lines ean meet in a point, without forming an angle.
226. Eat and drink, among others, are set down as neuter verbs. To those who think them such, but who, contrary to their own creed, use them several times a day, as active and transitive, it is recommended that they try to reconcile their practice with their doctrine, and employ these two verbs without objects, as long as they believe them neuter.
Mental actions follow the analogy of corporeal things, and will be most properly explained under the head of figurative language. The reader, in attending to this investigation, will be led to consider the great point of union between physical and