Page images
PDF
EPUB

instances. For example, we say 'He dares to go,' and 'He dares not go.' After many auxiliaries it is usual to omit the sign to; and so also after other verbs, as bid, make. They bid him ccme,' “They make him leap;' where come and leap are infinitives dependent upon the governing verbs "bid'and make.'

In older English there are variations both ways; our forefathers sometimes omitted the sign where we use it, and used the sign where we omit it. So Shakespeare : You ought not walk.

Julius Cæsar, i. 1. and on the other hand, I durst, my lord, to wager she is honest.

Othello, iv. 2. There are also many varieties in provincial dialects; in some counties we may hear. They helped him mow the grass,' for to mow.'

30. But, in many other instances, the word to, so far from being a mere sign, is a true preposition, meaning in order to; as, “ He came to see me, that is, 'in order to see me,' or ' for the purpose of seeing me.' This distinction is to be carefully remembered when we are translating from English into other languages. When to is a mere sign, we may generally render the verb by the Latin infinitive. But it is a gross error to do so where to signifies in order to; in such instances we must employ the preposition ad with a gerund, or with a noun coupled with the participle in -dus, or we must use ut with a verb in the subjunctive mood.

At one period in the history of the language our forefathers forgot the original force of the preposition to in these constructions, and inserted an additional preposition for; as, What went ye out for to see ?

Matthew, xi. 8. In some parts of the country similar phrases are even yet occasionally heard; and sometimes for is employed before the sign to, where there is not even the shadow of an excuse to justify it; as, 'He told me for to do it.'

31. But in English we have another form of the infinitive in -ing, the same in sound and spelling as the present par.. ticiple. Thus instead of saying 'to see is to believe,' we generally say "seeing is believing. In like manner “it is healthful to rise early,' may be expressed rising early is healthful.'

In the sentence 'riding is pleasant,' or 'he loves riding,' the form riding is used substantively, and is really an infinitive, or, as some prefer to call it, a gerund. But in the sentence he came riding at full speed,' riding is a participle, and has the force of an adjective.

Grammarians have produced much needless perplexity by confounding the two forms, and by supposing that a participle or a participial phrase can ever be used substantively. The very employment of these forms must convince us that they are infinitives, and not participles; for the participle partakes of the nature of an adjective, and not of a substantive.- See Whately, Logic, II. 1. 3.

32. The forms in -ing demand very careful attention. For the English termination -ing represents no less than three distinct endings in Anglo-Saxon-namely, those of the infinitive, the present participle, and the verbal substantive. The Anglo

xon verb writan, “to write,' gives us the following forms :Infinitive :

writan, to write,' writing.' Gerund :

to writanne, to write,' 'for writing.' Present Participle: writende, writing.'

It so happens that the Verbal Substantive derived from this verb ends in -ing, writing; but the more usual termination of verbal substantives is -ung, as mearcung, 'a marking,' clænsung, • a cleansing.'

33. The so-called Gerund in Anglo-Saxon appears to be nothing more than the Dative case of the infinitive governed by the preposition to. When the infinitive was used substantively, the form writan was employed for the nominative and accusative cases; to writanne was used as the dative. In process of time,

writan became write, writing ;

to writanne became to write: and the following confusion took place :-The infinitive form writing was confounded with the participle present, and its true origin was forgotten. The form to write was not confined to phrases denoting a purpose, where a dative case is proper, but was used generally for an infinitive, even in phrases requiring a nominative or an accusative case. For example, we say

To err is human. But etymologically, this is as great a violation of the principles of Anglo-Saxon grammar, as Ad erranduin est humanum would be a violation of Latin grammar. No doubt, custom sanctions our present usage; but, etymologically, to err represents the dative of the infinitive used substantively, and not the nominative.

34. Thus the nominative and accusative writ-an assumed the forms writ-en, writ-in, and finally writ-ing. This form of the infinitive is also known to modern grammarians as the Gerund, a term borrowed from the Latin Grammar, and one which might, in the opinion of Dr. Adams, be advantageously excluded from the grammar of the English language.-See Adams, Elements, $ 287.

However, since the term Gerund has obtained admission into many schools, some teachers may wish to retain it, as applicable to the form in --ing. But if so, they should carefully distinguish between,

1. The Gerund in -ing, as writing.
2. The Gerund with to, as to write ; wherewto signifies in

order to, and must not be confounded with to the

ordinary sign of the infinitive : thus,
He loves to ride

Infinitive.
He came to see me

Gerund. The termination of the present participle in Anglo-Saxon was -ende, which we have converted into -ing. But in Old English and Old Scottish the participial termination -and was preserved :

Pointes and sleeves be well sittand,
Right and streight on the hand.

Chaucer, Romaunt of the Rose, 2264.
Before them all there came ridand
With helm on heid and spear in hand,
Sir Henry the Boon, the worthy,
That was a wicht knicht, and a hardy.

Barbour, Bruce.
His glitterand armour shined far away,
Like glauncing light of Phoebus' brightest ray.

Spenser, Faerie Queene, I. vii. The Anglo-Saxon verbal substantive writing is the same in termination and meaning with our own writing.'--See Adams, Elements of the English Language, $$ 286, 287; and compare Max Müller, Science of Language, Second Series, pp. 15–18.

35. It is very necessary, in English, to discriminate between these three different words, infinitive, present participle, and verbal substantive, which in form appear to be the samewriting.

The infinitive can be distinguished from the participle by this test, that the infinitive may be used substantively; whereas the participle can be employed as an adjective only, and never as a substantive.

It is not always easy to distinguish between the infinitive (writing) and the verbal substantive (writing). For example, in this sentence, the breaking of the waves upon the shore is harmonious, some persons might contend that breaking is an infinitive used substantively; and others that it is a verbal substantive. But in phrases where the infinitive governs an objective case, there can be no doubt whatever ; for the infinitive, though used substantively, may retain its powers as a verb; whereas the verbal substantive never has any such powers. Thus in the sentence, ' Honestly meeting difficulties is wiser than shunning them,' meeting and shunning are manifestly infinitives (or gerunds, if that term be preferred).

36. In the preceding pages we have remarked the several constructions in which the infinitive is used substantively. We shall now recapitulate them, in order to obtain a clear view of the whole question, making some additional observations upon points of interest. The infinitive is used, 1. As a subject-nominative :

To walk is healthy,

Walking is agreeable. 2. As a predicate-nominative:

To hear is to obey.

Seeing is believing. 3. As a primary objective :

John loves to study.

He enjoys walking in the fields.
4. As a secondary objective:

The general forced him to serve.
I counsel

you

to wait patiently. 37. Particular care must be taken in analysing sentences which contain an infinitive dependent upon verbs of perception or sensation, seeing,''hearing,'' knowing,' &c. In reference

.

[ocr errors]

.

to this construction, we shall examine the doctrine of the subject-accusative. Suppose we take the sentence,

I know him to be eloquent. We shall endeavour, first of all, to prove that him is not, strictly speaking, an objective; but that the whole phrase ' him to be eloquent’ is the object of the verb “know.' Another form of the sentence would be,

I know that she is eloquent] and since, by the idiom of the English language, we are allowed in such constructions to omit that, we may say,

I know she is eloquent.] Now this clause he is eloquent’ is really a subordinate clause, which may be analysed separately; thus he

Subject-nominative. is

Predicate-verb. eloquent. Predicate-nominative. If, however, we wish to throw this clause into a form immediately dependent upon the governing verb, to make it, in fact, the object of the verb 'know,' we turn the subjectnominative into the subject-accusative; the indicative is into the infinitive to be ; and the predicate-nominative into the predicate-accusative; and we say,

I know [him to be eloquent.]
Obs.—The Latin language shows the form of the predicate-

accusative.

Ille est facundus : 'He is eloquent.' Scio illum esse facundum : 'I know him to be eloquent.' That the word him is not an objective dependent upon know, must be clear from the following consideration. We do not mean to assert that we know him absolutely; we may be ignorant of his character, or of his general capabilities. We merely assert that we are acquainted with his merit as a speaker. But as the whole clause is the object of the verb know,' and stands in the position of an objective case, the subject of the clause is attracted into the accusative, and the indicative is turned into that part of the verb which is not modified by number and person, namely the infinitive. Finally, the predicate of the clause, 'eloquent,' must agree in case with the subject, and is therefore in the accusative; hence we term it the predicate-accusative.

« PreviousContinue »