Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

will be as tame and feeble as those of the French language are. This liberty is taken in order to elevate our style ; and to impart to inanimate objects the functions of life. The sentences in the foregoing paragraph would lose much of their force, if it were employed instead of he and she, and his and her.

46. THE CASES. The word Case, in its general acceptation, means, state of things, or state of something. For example: You would say to me, “the New York banks have resumed specie payments.” To which I would interrogatively reply, “ah! is that the case ? " that is to say, is that the state of things, or the state of matters ? As this is a matter of much importance, I will give you a further illustration : Suppose that you had been a revolutionary soldier, had never received any recompense for your services, and were now poor. Suppose that you would make me acquainted with these facts, and ask my assistance to obtain what was but a trifling_reward for the many hardships which you had endured. I would say, "indeed venerable father, your case, in common with that of many another worthy man, whose blood joyously purchased the liberty which his degenerate, ungrateful children now possess without being able to appreciate its blessings, is an extremely hard one. I feel for you more than I can express. I will give you all the assistance within my power. I will lay your case before Congress, and I trust that relief will speedily follow."

47. If you reflect a moment, you will perceive that when I say "your case is an extremely hard one,” I mean the state of things in which you are placed, is an extremely hard one.

And when I say, “I will lay your case before Congress," you perceive that I also mean the state of things, or, the state of matters in which you are placed. Or, to make the meaning bear a closer resemblance to the wording, I might render the question, “I will lay your state of things or state of matters before Congress." Bear in mind this definition of Case.

48. Nouns may be in different states with regard to other Nouns, or other words. For example, a Noun may be the name of a person who kicks a horse; or of a person whom

a horse kicks; or of a person who possesses a horse. And these different states, or situations, are, for the reasons given in the preceding paragraph, called Cases.

49. In some languages each Noun has several different endings in order to denote the different Cases in which it may be. In our language, there is but one different ending made in order to denote Case; and of this ending I shall speak presently.

50. The Cases are THREE. They are called the Nomina. tive, the Possessive, and the Ohjective. The Nominative Case is the one which denotes a person or thing that does something,or is something; as,"Georgeworks; George is honest."

51. The Possessive Case is the one which denotes a person or thing that possesses some other person or thing ; as, “George's book; the people's cause; the nation's freedom!” Here you see the change in the ending of the Noun, concerning which I spoke in the last paragraph. You see that each of the Nouns, George, people, and nation, has an s, and an apostrophe, or mark of elision, appended to it. This apostrophe is placed between the list letter of the Noun, and the s, for the purpose of dis. tinguishing this Case from the plural number. When a plural Noun ends in s, anothers must not be added to form the Possessive Case; the apostrophe, simply, must be added to the s, ending the Noun ; thus: “nations'.free. doom ; horses' feet; merchants' exchange.". But here is an important matter to attend to; which is, that the Possessive Case may, in every instance, be expressed by a turn of the words. Thus we may say, “the book of George; the cause of the people ; the freedom of the nation.” It is discretionary with a writer, whether he use the former or the latter mode of expression. Perhaps the former is now most used; but the latter is every day advancing, while the former is retrograding in public practice. And I would not be at all astonished, if, some day the s and the apostrophe should become obsolete. In the French language, there is but one way to express the Possessive Case; and this is by placing the thing possessed before the possessor, and making the word of (de) in the same way that we do, intervene, thus : “ le livre de Jacques ;" that is, " the book of James." « La Plume de Jean;" that is, “ the pen of John."

52. The Objective Case is the one which denotes a person or thing that is the object of some other person or thing's action; as,

George strikes Thomas; George looks at Thomas; Luxury corrupts the heart.I have a great deal to say about this, and the Nominative Case, but do not think it proper to say any more in this place. When I come to the Syntax of Verbs, I will give you all the information necessary.

LETTER VI.

ETYMOLOGY OF PRONOUNS.

MY YOUNG FRIEND,

53. You recollect what Pronouns are; you recollect that they are words used for, or in the place of Nouns, to prevent the disagreeable repetition of the latter. Pronouns are divided into four classes. The first class is called the Personal; the second, the Relative; the third, the Demon. strative, and the fourth, the Indefinite.

54. In Personal Pronouns there are four things to be attended to; which are person, number, gender and case.

55. The persons are three. The Pronoun which stands in the place of the Noun that speaks is called the first person; the Pronoun which stands in the place of the Noun spoken to, is called the second person; the Pronoun which stands in the place of the Noun spoken of, is called the third person.

For example: “I will write to you about him. You must reflect here, or else you will find yourself in trouble. Suppose I were to say, “ I will write to him about you,” in what person would you place him and in what person you ? Would you not say, “why, him must be in the second person, because it represents the person spoken to; and you must be in the third person, because it represents the person spoken of ?" I think you would; for I recollect that I was very much puzzled with this matter; and after a good deal of thinking, I came to the conclusion that the grammar which I was studying, was wrong; and so fully was I persuaded of this, that I

I was also puz

wrote a note upon the margin of the grammar, attempting to show the fallacy of what was taught. zled on another account: I perceived, (as you will pre. sently) by the table of Personal Pronouns, that him was ALWAYS in the third person, and you always in the second. Now how was I to reconcile these contradictions ? I was told that the person spoken to was the second person; and that the person spoken of was the third person ; but I afterwards perceived that the person spoken to was in the third person! and the person spoken of in the second person! I was in a feverish excitement. I thought I could fasten it, tight enough upon the author of the gram. mar, that he had contradicted himself. But just as I had finished my demolishing note, the thought struck me, of, to whom, was I speaking, when I said, “I will write to him about you;" aye, sure enough, to whom was I speak. ing! My demolisher was in its turn demolished! I per. ceived that I was speaking to the person whom I called you; and that notwithstanding I said “to him," I was speaking of him to the person called you. “I will write to him (here I speak of the person represented by him) about you.” (Here I address myself to the person, represented by you.") This with me settled the whole matter; and I considered myself very fortunate in having overcome what had caused me so much perplexity.

56. In my last Letter, I did not tell you any thing about the person of Nouns, because I considered that the present Letter would be the best one, in which to give the re. quired information. The person that speaks, as I told you, at the beginning of the preceding paragraph, is call. ed the first person; the person spoken to, is called the second person; and the person spoken of, is called the third person. Now Nouns have no first person ; and for a very good reason; because they never, in the capacity of Nouns, speak. If you reflect a moment, you will see the truth of this; for when I say to you, " Thomas is speak. ing to the assembly,” he is not the person that is speaking; that is, is not the person that is speaking to you. I am this person; I am telling you what Thomas is doing. I am speaking to you of him; and therefore he

Nouns may

is in the third person, and I am in the first. Recollect, then, that Nouns can never be in the first person ; that Pronouns alone can be in that person. be spoken to, and spoken of, but never can be made to speak; unless they, at the same time, be spoken of.

57. In my last letter, I told you about the numbers of Nouns. The numbers of Pronouns are the same as those of Nouns; Singular and Plural.

But Pronouns vary their spelling, much more than Nouns do, to express a difference in number, as you will see by the follow table which exhibits at once, both the numbers and all the persons :

Singular.

Plural.
First person.

I,

We.
Second person.

T'hou,

You.
Third person.

He,

They. 58. You recollect what I told you about gender in the Letter on the Etymology of Nouns. You recollect that gender is “the distinction of sex.” The Pronouns of the first and second persons, have no changes to express gender; but the third person singular has changes for this purpose; as, he, she, il.

59. We now come to the case. The meaning of the word case, has already been explained to you in Letter V, paragraphs 46, and 47, which I advise you to read again; for though you may fully understand the meaning of the word, it will do you no harm to read again those paragraphs. Read also paragraphs 48, 49, 50, 51, and 52, which show the distinctions between the cases. In Nouns, there is but one of the cases which is expressed by a difference in spelling. But with Pronouns, the matter is dif. ferent; for they vary greatly to express the different cases in which they are; for example: I, my, me.

60. The cases of Personal Pronouns are the same as those of Nouns: the nominative, the possessive, and the ob. jective. In the following table, you will find all these Pronouns together with all the circumstances of person, number, gender, and case.

« AnteriorContinuar »