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use made of numeral distinction in English Connouns. Without any loss of meaning, but with much grammatic convenience, we have no numeral diversity in our relatives-Who, Which, What, That, and in what is called our Definite Article The.
What numeral distinctions can appear more ne cessary than Thou and You? Yet if Thou had not found protection among the Quakers, and refuge in prayer, it would have wholly perished; and that royal pronoun We, threatens to supersede I; for established usage is, already, almost as shy of it as of thou.
Any sign of Gender is as little necessary as of Number: hence, except in the third person singular, no such sign exists. Lindley Murray (whose grammatic celebrity entitles him to some preference as an authority) indeed, tells us, "The persons speaking and spoken to, being at the same time the subjects of the discourse, are supposed to be present; from which and other circumstances, their sex is commonly known and needs not to be marked by a distinction of gender in the pronouns: but the third person or thing spoken of being absent, and in many respects unknown, it is necessary that it should be marked by a distinction of gender." Well then, what becomes of this necessity in the third person plural, which contains no sign of distinction in gender? The grammatist could not but perceive his statement to
be too hazardous, unless accompanied by some saving clause; and, therefore, in the legitimate manner of a sophist, he subjoins, "at least, when some particular person or thing is spoken of, that ought to be more distinctly marked: accordingly, the pronoun singular of the third person has the three genders, he, she, it"!!!
The reader would be as little edified as gratified by comments on such doctrines. There is a useless but embarrassing distinction attempted, if not already effected, between Who and Which; as if the former belonged exclusively to persons, and the latter to things and animals devoid of reason, such as turkeys and infants: if this additional fetter of senseless grammar be imposed upon free-born Englishmen, it will be their own fault; for up to a very recent period, there is the sanction of the best usage for scornful disregard of such petty distinctions; which serve nó purpose except to render English composition difficult.
We have seen how little the distinctions of Number and Gender are necessary: but the distinctions of Case (except what is called the Genitive) are worse than useless; for they cause much embarrassment: were it not for these and a few other grammatic nuisances, the English language would be the simplest, easiest, and most manageable ever constructed. The truth is, we have varieties of termination
called cases for no reason in the world save that they existed in Greek and Latin; but though such varieties of termination might be necessary or useful in these languages, it does not follow that they are either necessary or useful in English; which accomplishes by position the same purpose which the former effected by case: hence, (fortunately,) we have no accusative case of nouns; which retain the same unchanged form whether nominatives, or objectives. If every purpose of speech be accomplished without change of termination in nouns, what can render such change necessary or useful in pronouns ? If This, That, These, Those, Which, What, It, The, &c., be fully competent to the purpose for which they are employed without any change, what could possibly incapacitate the other words of the same class for performing their office, if they appeared only in a single form? But it is useless to reason on the subject. We have Me, Thee, Him, Whom, &c.; merely because the monkish grammatists found Me, Te, Eum, Quem, &c., in the Latin language. Nor is it surprising that, in borrowing so much from it, they should have adopted more than was necessary; but why should we deify and worship or consecrate and preserve their blunders? Let the grammatists cogitate an apophthegm of their great lexicographer : What reason did not dictate, reason can never explain. Let them humbly content themselves with saying this or that unreasonable part of grammar is,
because it was; and because it was and is, therefore it shall be for ever.
But having much affection for the English language; and contemplating the long duration and wide prevalence that seem to await it, we have some desire that it should descend to future times as free from imperfection as possible: and the abuses we complain of might be easily removed without the least danger or inconvenience.
If what are termed the pronouns were brought to the simple state in which the nouns of the English language exist, they would appear thus: I, I's; Thou, Thou's; He, He's; She, She's; It, It's; We, We's; You, You's; They, They's; Who, Who's.
This is all that is necessary in the way of personal and relative Connoun: and what a contrast of simplicity to the jumble of anomaly which at present enjoys the patronage of established usage! Many, indeed, will deem it a very naked simplicity: and the disciples of custom, who always judge more by habit than by reflection, will, probably, find in it some mirthful amusement; for which it is hoped they will be duly grateful. We are not sanguine in our expectation that such simplicity will be either generally relished or adopted; but if the objective case be given up, we care not about the rest; for it is that which next to the verb, causes the chief difficulty of English grammar. Such anomalies as My, Mine; Thy,
Thine; Your, Your's; Her, Her's; Their, Their's; are soon mastered; but the etiquette of placing I and Me; Thou and Thee; He and Him; She and Her ; They and Them; Who and Whom; is a matter of constant recurrence; and in which the most expert grammarians are apt to blunder. If, however, one form were adhered to, (let it be either I or Me; He or Him; They or Them; She or Her; which is wholly indifferent,) such blundering could not happen: and that one of these forms might be dispensed with is evident; for when ungrammatic persons say, I saw he; he saw I; you saw they; or, me saw him; him saw me, &c.; though the mode of expression may seem ludicrous to grammatic people, there is nothing wrong as to meaning that is conveyed as distinctly by the peasant's bad grammar as by the good grammar of Lindley Murray and when any other standard of correctness than significancy is erected under the name of grammar, it is to be regarded as a mere ceremonial or fantastic etiquette imposed on the grammatic multitude; who are not to enjoy the blessing of liberty in expressing their thoughts; but are always to be in the bondage of a most arbitrary censorship. Though English grammar be very simple, what littérateur is there, however accomplished, who is not frequently guilty of some grammatic offence? Hence the gentlemen of the press usually mix up their controversies with grammatic recriminations: and it is very amusing to see William Cobbett turn round on his literary pur