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According to the principles laid down in the grammars, the verbs have and be, as auxiliaries, are both neuter, and in this character have very little meaning of their own; being both used merely to conjugate other verbs. They agree then in all the essential points; they must of course have the same manner of meaning, and there can be but a slight shade of special difference between them.
He has gone.
These two sentences, it will be seen, are precisely alike, except the auxiliaries. These helping verbs has and is are both in the present tense of the indicative mood, third person singular. Every rational person, therefore, must of course expect the structure of the two sentences to be explained on similar principles. Yet, by the touch of a grammarian’s pen, as of a conjuror's wand, one of these sentences is active, in the second degree of past tense, and the other is passive, and in the present tense. Such is the difference between two terms, belonging in all respects, to the same special class of words, and used precisely in the same manner.
Passive. Penelope is loved for my sake.
It is undoubtedly true that if Penelope is loved, somebody loves her; but this is the inference of common sense, and does not depend on grammatical construction.
The passive verb, nine times in ten, is turned into downright nonsense, by the mere change of the preposition. It needs a new grammar, therefore, to explain on what principle a preposition can go
vern an objective case after it, and at the same time, like a two edged sword, turn back, and totalły change the character of a preceding verb.
292. Persons of candor and talent, who will give themselves the trouble to examine the principles alluded to in the preceding pages, will see at once, how much the whole business of learning and teaching language is simplified, by adopting the selfproving fact, that all verbs are necessarily active and transitive; the verb to be, among the rest, for which an other transitive verb may always be substituted, without altering the grammatical construction.
“The very populace in Athens were [rendered themselves] critics in pronunciation, in language, and even in eloquence; and, in Rome, at present, the most illiterate shopkeeper is [proves himself] a better judge of statues and pictures than many persons of refined education in London.—Lord Kaime's Elements of Criticism.
“The soldiers are [hold themselves] ready to march at a moment's warning.”
293. It is not pretended that an other word of precisely the same specific meaning, can be substituted for the verb to be. What is insisted on is, that a transitive verb, with its governed object, can be substituted, in every possible case, for the verb to be, substantially preserving the sense, and without changing the grammatical construction. This is sufficient to show that the verb to be, is itself an active and transitive verb, and has nothing in its manner of meaning to distinguish it from others.
The tree was very high.
She is respected and happy. She lives respected and happy. He is in good health. He keeps himselfin good health. The light was the life of men. The light caused or produced the life of men. The people of New Holland are opposite to us. The people of New Holland pass their lives opposite to us He is convicted.
He stands convicted. **
He is guilty.
He confesses himself guilty.
They are pleasantly situated.
Once for all : the meaning of this expression is, they are or air themselves, they enjoy the air or igit or life, pleasantly situated. They “spirit” or “inspirit themselves,” are expressions used with perfect correctness, according to the standing definitions in the dictionaries, though these words are not so convenient, nor so appropriately expressive as the different parts of the verb to be ; and they are therefore not in fashionable use.
204. Again, the doctrine of passive verbs, as to their relation to time, is totally irreconcilable with
the fact. The following are examples of the present tense.
“The vessel is dashed on the rocks.”
If it is dashed on the rocks, who or what dashes it in the present tense?
The man is gone. What goes him:
There is not a man living, who is capable of learning the directions laid down in the English grammars, respecting passive verbs, and applying them to practice. The truth is, that the use of verbs is so acquired by habit, in conversation and reading, that such directions, intricate, mistaken, and inconsistent as they are, can not change these essential principles of speech. The whole theory of passive verbs is an accumulated mass of bsurdity, handed down by prescription from the dark ages, and ought to be exploded at once, by all nations who have ceased to discourage learning, burn heretics, and hang witches. The time and expense employed in such a study are worse than lost.
295. In this labyrinth of grammatical uncertainty, what is to be done to lighten the scholar's burdensome load, and supply a guiding torch? What glory would redound to the man whose labors could supply a single rule, capable of being learned in an hour, easily remembered during life, and every where applied, without exception. How fortunate would it be for whole nations to be freed from the labor of years, in learning volumes of perplexing, inconsistent, and impracticable expositions, which, after the toil of life, are never understood, and lead to no certain result. It is still more fortunate that no such benefaction is required. The rule is before us, and capable of being as clearly understood as the forty-seventh problem of Euclid.
296. “There are three participles, the present or active, the perfect or passive, and the compound perfect; loving, loved, having loved.”—JMurray's Grammar.
These participles are all adjectives under all circumstances. Neither is ever used, but in reference to some person or thing which is loving or loved ; and always as descriptive of that thing or person; as, a loving parent, the parent was loving or affectionate. A trotting horse; the horse is trotting. What news have you received 2 That which was very uneapected and afflicting.
Participles denote the resulting effect of verbal action, which resolves itself into quality, or state, or condition of the thing.
The house is finished.
Each of these participles describes the house, as being in that state, condition, circumstance, or situation, in which the action denoted by the verb finish has placed it.
“Every glytteryng thing is not golde, and under colour of fayre speche many vices may be hyd and conseyled.—Chaucer. Test of Love.
297. All participles are adjectives. They are never used in a sentence without a reference to a noun which, in some way, they serve to describe;