« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
of good sense and good grammar at one and the same moment, the consequence frequently is, that both are badly performed. We sometimes find good sense expressed in bad grammar; and we often find good grammar garnishing bad sense: nay, even bad composition is often dressed up in good grammar; and good composition often appears in the dishabille of faulty grammar.
We are willing to subscribe to the motto assumed by Lindley Murray, from the Lectures of Dr. Blair. They who are learning to compose and arrange their sentences with accuracy and order, are learning at the same time to think with accuracy and order;" as also to another sentence of the same rhetorician: "The study of arranging and expressing our thoughts with propriety, teaches to think as well as to speak accurately." But how are we to understand the nouns accuracy and propriety in all such propositions? If they mean what is commonly called grammatic propriety and accuracy, such as saying, thou lovest, instead of thou love; we were, instead of we was, &c.; there is just as little connexion between such etiquette and learning to think accurately or to express thought accurately, i. e. definitely, as there is between learning to bow and learning to reason. Logical accuracy of expression is of the highest importance; and this is the proper object of rational grammar: but this is so far from being identical with arbitrary grammar, that the one is often at variance with the other.
THE reader is now sufficiently aware of the true character of arbitrary grammar. It was not dictated by reason, and therefore cannot be referred to any rational principles. But though we wish to see it discarded by a general disuse of all anomalies and unmeaning terminations, and changes of verbs and pronouns, yet such reform must be effected (if ever effected) by the influential members of the literary world. All others must be content with established usage. They must endeavour to speak and write grammatically, merely to avoid the imputation of ignorance and illiterateness. In this, as in so many other things, we must submit to bondage, for we are not free to follow reason-unless we have sufficient hardihood to set public opinion at defiance.
For the use of those who must prudently comply with the prescribed etiquette, we shall endeavour to present it in as intelligible a form, and in as small a compass, as possible.
THE GRAMMAR OF PRONOUNS.
The words called Pronouns are, I, Me, Thou, Thee, He, Him, She, Her, It, We, Us, You or Ye, They, Them, Who, Whom, Which, This, These, That, Those.
There can be no mistake respecting the meaning of these words, with any persons who have heard
them pronounced a few times in the common course of speech: I, is perceived to indicate the same person as Me, Thou as Thee, He as Him, &c.; but as these double forms of the same words had necessarily, in Latin, different applications, the English grammatists thought a similar diversity of application proper in the English language; and they have succeeded in making a useless and embarrassing distinction an essential part of arbitrary grammar. Grammatic propriety, as to the pronouns, may be included in the following particulars.
THE DOUBLE FORMS OF PRONOUNS.
These we will range in two classes: 1. I, Thou, He, She, Who, We, They. 2. Me, Thee, Him, Her, Whom, Us, Them. [Ye or You, It, Which, That, This, &c., are not included in the above enumeration; because, fortunately, they have but one form.]
Those of the first class are called, by grammarians, nominatives, or are said to be in the nominative case: those in the second class are called objectives, or are said to be in the objective case: but we shall, for the sake of intelligibleness, call the one (I, Thou, He, She, &c.) the first form; and the other (Me, Thee, Him, &c.) the second form of the pronoun. There is a peculiar manner of employing the pronouns, for which it is not easy to give any rule perfectly accurate. The nearest approach to accuracy seems this: When any one of the words commonly
called pronouns, is employed to indicate an agent, it is put in the first form; and when it is employed to indicate an object of some action, it is put in the second form. Thus: I love thee; thou lovest me; he loves her; she loves him; they love us; we love them; the man whom she loves is the person who loves her. These are all examples of proper grammar, and when inverted they present instances of improper grammar: Me love thou; thee lovest I; him loves she; her loves he; them love me; us love they; the man who her loves is the person whom loves she.
Another approximation to accuracy, as a gencral rule, might be put thus: When the pronoun stands before the verb it is put in the first form; when it stands after the verb it is put in the second form: as, I see them, they see us, &c. This is the usual, but not the invariable, order of composition in the English language, and therefore the above would not hold as a universal rule; for in such instances as the following, the second form of the pronoun, or what is called the objective case, stands before the verb: Whom seek ye? He whom ye seek. Here, in both cases, whom is the object of the verb seek, though it stands before it. Nor is the other imperfect rule less objectionable, viz. when the pronoun denotes an agent, it is in the first form or nominative case, and when it denotes the object of an action, it is in the second form or objective case; for by employing the verb in what is called the passive instead
of the active voice, the grammatic relation of agent and object is wholly changed, as is evident in the following examples: Thou art loved by me; I am loved by thee; she is loved by him: not thee art loved by I, &c.
It is impossible to give accurate and adequate rules concerning arbitrary grammar, which can never be reduced to rational principles; for "what reason did not dictate, reason can never explain."
Perhaps the most unobjectionable rule that can be given is the following: A pronoun is always in the first form or nominative case, except first, when it is the object of a verb active or transitive: as, you love him, whom I hate; he dreads us, but despises them; we, as well as they, disregard him, but respect her, &c. In these instances the pronouns him, whom, them, us, are, in the language of grammarians, governed by the active verbs, (love, hate, dreads, &c.,) in the accusative or objective case. There is neither much sense nor intelligibleness in such terms; but every reader, however little acquainted with the subject before, must now understand what is meant by the position, Every pronoun is in the first form or nominative case, except first, when the object of a verb active. But there is a second exception, viz. when a pronoun is preceded by any of those words called prepositions; or (to adopt the common grammatic phraseology) when the pronoun is governed by a preposition.
The words called prepositions are, of, to, from,