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Rex et regina regunt regnum, is perfectly correct Latin; but would not be used by a good writer; because its repetition of similar words makes it unpleasant.
207. Fourthly. The last class of supposed intransitive verbs, necessary to mention, are reflected verbs, with the personal objective word understood. This set of words appears to include the chief secret respecting intransitive or neuter verbs.
“ Warning was therefore given to Lady Jane to prepare for death."--Hume's History of England. That is, to prepare herself.
I must dress ) and get ) ready for the ball. “ He retired
) from the field :" that is, he retired or drew back himself : from retirer, French : or re and tiro Latin. To fall one's self, is no longer used; yet this is the original expression: we still say, to fall trees. “ Cast thyself down,” is a perfectly analogous form of speech. So in French, s'abattre ; and the same idiom running through the different languages of Europe, showing the general principle, beyond all possibility of doubt. 6. To repent one's self,” was the original form in English, and it still is in other, languages. It was sometimes used as an impersonal
“ It repented him that he had threatened to destroy Nineveh.” “No man repented him of his wickedness;" Jeremiah viji. ; which form answers to the Latin poenitet. The phrase, as given by the translators, is perfectly good English ; and is the exact rendition of the Hebrew original.
verb : as,
In explaining the adjective, some notice was taken of the different kinds and degrees of relation, sbich are often concealed under the same apparent
grammatical form. Similar principles extend to verbs and other parts of speech.
The groom and bride marry each other; and the priest marries them both, to each other. It is also said by Engligh writers, that the father marries his daughter, to the husband whom he selects for her.
In Dr. Goldsmith's song of Miss Hardcastle in the comedy “ She stoops to conquer.” “O when shall I marry me ?” that is, marry myself to a husband.
208. This class of reflected verbs may be subdivided into three kinds.
1. Simple reflected verbs representing actions recurring singly upon the actors, through the different persons, moods, and tenses. “Cornaro confined himself to the most temperate course of life.”
2. Reciprocal verbs, are the actions of differept persons, mutually exercised : “They ruined each other by litigation.”
3. Verbs used only in the third person singular are called impersonal ; implying that they are not conjugated with different persons. Of this kind are the common phrases, it rains, it hails, freezes, or snows. In this form the idea is general; the snow snows : the frost freezes whatever freezable thing is in its way,
As an evidence that this is the general philosophie principle, the same idiom appears to prevail with ihe same class of actions, in all known languages.
209. It is no valid objection to say, like Mr. Murray and others, that cold is a quality, and frosi is an effect and not an active cause. This and other əxpressions, which form the main structure of language, are not modelled by the modern refinements in grammar. The speech of different nations is
full of examples, where these qualities and effects are considered operative principles. The “bitter” "bitëng frost" kills tender plants and fruit; benumbs the limbs, and stops the raging pestilence. “ Jack Frost makes bridges" over the streams. third day comes a frost, a killing frost ; nips his shoot; and then he falls."
The rain pours down in torrents; that is, pours itself down; and the reason why the objective word is not used, is that the rain is not conceived of as pouring down any thing else but itself.
210. The principle of natural and mental philosophy, as connected with this idiom of speech, seems easily to devolve itself, and is curiously interesting. The rain rains rain. It is not the idea of one thing acting on an
other. According to the obvious conception of unlettered people, as well as of enlightened philosophers, it is the substance rain, generating action, within itself, and that action, by a consequent influence, affecting the agent which produced it. "A little leven leveneth the whole lump, ,” which, by levening, becomes leven. So we say carbonates effervesce (
) with acids. Cider works itself clear by fermentation. How differently does the following sentence present itself to the mind ! " Then the Lord rained upon Sodom, and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire, from the Lord, out of Heaven."
211. The erroneous opinions respecting the verbs, called intransitive or neuter, will be farther seen in the definitions given by the ablest lexicographers to explain them, under this supposed character. Take for instance the familiar neuter verb to act, as it stands in the last London edition of Todd's Johnson.
“ To Act v. n. [ago, actum, Lat.] To be in action, noi to rest. Pope. To perform the proper functions. South. To practise arts or duties. Dryden. To produce effects on some passive subject. Garth.
Every one of these definitions, and every other which could be given, so far as it is correct as a definition, has an objective word, expressed or necessarily understood.
212. In contemplating the thousands of verbs, represented as being either active or neuter, according to their collocation, one idea presents itself, as the obvious deduction of common sense. These words were not originally introduced in this double character ; but with one direct meaning. They have gradually grown into their multifarious applications, by long habit.
66 Mr. Williams is to move [ ) into his new house next week." To move himself, family, and furniture, are the associated objects, understood by familiar custom.
213. Many of these verbs are vacillating between the supposed characters of transitive and intransitive. “ How does he conduct
] in his new situation ?” When are you to leave [ ]?” The critics, at first, object to the use of these verbs, without the object expressed; but, in spite of remonstrances, there is an irresistible tendency to avoid the repetition of words which, by familiar practice, are sufficiently understood : and the number of verbs erroneously considered as intransitive is constantly increasing.
I [A. B.] undersyne thee, [C. D.] for my wedded wyfe, for better, for worse, for richer, for porer, yn sickness, end yn helthe, tyl dethe us departe, as
holy churche hath ordeyned, end thereto I plyght my trowthe." Marriage Vow," "Missals" of the Church of Hereford, 1502.
Tyl dethe us departe ;” that is, till death shall de-part us, or se-parate us, from each other. The classic scholar, who gives a slight attention to the etymons of these words, will perceive that a constructive object is irresistibly inferred. So “to depart from a place;" “ to depart this life,” is to se-parate, dis-part, or de-part one's self from a present situation.
214. One obvious reason why the objects of reflected verbs are less used in English than in most other tongues, is, that they are longer and harsher words. The constant repetition of the words myself, himself, themselves, would have a much more clumsy effect, than the Latin or French se, or the Italian si; or than the slightly articulated Spanislı word lo, or la, appended to the verb.
215. But there is a shorter and more conclusive way to settle the very important question, respecting intransitive verbs, than by any course of mere grammatical reasoning.
All verbs denote action ; for it will be shown hereafter, how unsounded is the attempted distinction between action, passion, and existence.
216. Every action necessarily implies the motion, operation, or change of some material substance ; and no movement or change of matter can possibly take place, without affecting the moving body, or some thing else, or both. The verb affirms this movement, action, operation or change; always affirming it, under all the modifications of speech,