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upon my sleeve
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty
Othello, i. 1.
Clown (personating Sir Topas the Curate). Bonos dies, Sir Toby: for, as the old hermit of Prague, that never saw pen and ink, very wittily said to a niece of King Gorboduc, "That that is is'; so, I being master Parson, am master Parson; for what is that' but that, and is' but is ?
This is the very point. No doubt, 'whatever is, is,' in the sense that whatever exists, exists.' But let us consider the various significations which may be implied in the word is, used as a copula, in the simple sentence · A is B.'
"A is B' may mean, 1. A is co-extensive with B: Man is a rational animal. 2. A is of the same meaning with B:
Fidelity is faithfulness. 3. A is in the condition implied by B:
The sailor is saved. 4. A is included in the class of B:
Man is an animal. 5. A is possessed of attri
butes common to the class
Man is an animal.
God is a Spirit. 7. A is the cause of B: Intemperance is the death
of thousands. 8. A is like B:
The hero is a lion in the
fight. 9. A is analogous to B: Athens is the eye of Greece.
In fact, it is difficult to fix a limit to the various meanings which
may be assigned to the word is in the simple sentence A is B.'
In Mathematics we find nothing of this laxity in the statement of propositions. There everything is judged by measure, number, or proportion. Things are said to be equal, or not equal, to one another; in exact ratio, or not in exact ratio: so that there is no room for any play of meaning.
But in ordinary conversation, or argument, the latitude is so great, that it is no wonder if misunderstandings arise. The only wonder is, that disputants can ever come to issue at all.
For example, we hear it said that “Knowledge is power.' But what does this mean? It may signify that knowledge is identical with power, or as good as power, or a kind of power, or a source of power, or the way to power, &c. &c. Practically, it is generally understood to imply that knowledge gives or confers power; so that a man who possesses knowledge has more power than another who does not possess such knowledge. But the proposition says ' Knowledge is power;' and this rhetorical phrase conveys to the mind an indefinite notion of grandeur.
Again, Napoleon proclaims that “The empire is peace.' No one supposes this to mean 'peace at any price,' or that France will not go to war under any
may mean that Napoleon will not make war for the wanton love of it, or unless he is obliged. But while this proposition has no definite meaning, it carries an imposing sound, and has actually produced the effect of tranquillising the apprehensions of neighbouring states. This, no doubt, was the object intended.
Hence, when a man says that anything is anything, or that anything is something else, we cannot tell whether he is right or wrong until we know what he means by is.
And we may well doubt whether this word is not one of the most unsuitable that could be chosen as the Copula or Tie to join other words together. Still more strange does it seem that every other verb must be resolved into a participle coupled with this ambiguous word is.
On these discrepancies in the Logical system, Mr. Mason remarks (Grammar, 347, note):- In Logic, the terms predicate and copula involve a little difficulty. In the proposition “ The earth is a globe," it would be said that the predicate (prædicatum or thing asserted) is a globe ; that is, what we assert of the earth is, a globe. This mode of speaking requires a technical meaning to be put upon it, before it has any sense. More strictly in accordance with the meaning of the language, it should be said that what we assert, or the thing asserted about the earth, is its being a globe. Again, the so-called copula in Logic is really more than a copula or link by which two ideas are connected. If we have a finite form of the verb be (and without a finite form there can be no predication), we may ignore, but we cannot eliminate, either the root-meaning of the verb, or the idea of time. Is and are involve the notion of present time as essentially as was and were that of past time. This little difficulty however is quietly swallowed by the logicians, who tell us that the copula, as such, has no relation to time. The fact is, that technical logic ought to have some abstract sign for the copula, something like = in mathematics, and not the verb be at all. Now if we put together the two facts that there may be a perfect proposition without the verb be, and that when that verb is used there is no proposition unless the verb be is in a finite form, the inference is plain that the real copula consists of those inflections by which a verb assumes a finite form.'
Hence Mr. Mason considers that the grammatical copula in every sentence consists of the personal inflections of the verb; that is, the inflections by which number and person are marked, and by which the verb is made a finite verb. In the sentence “ Time flies," the subject is Time ; that which is predicated or asserted of time is flying; the personal termination of the verb flies unites this idea to the subject.'
The same doctrine is laid down by Mill, Logic, I. iv. He says :
-A predicate and a subject are all that is necessarily required to make up a proposition; but as we cannot conclude, from merely seeing two names put together, that they are a
tredicate and a subject, that is, that one of them is intended to be affirmed or denied of the other, it is necessary that there should be some mode or form of indicating that such is the intention; some sign to distinguish a predication from any other sign of discourse. This is sometimes done by a slight alteration of one of the words, called an inflection; as when
“ Fire burns," the change of the second word from burn to burns showing that we mean to affirm the predicate “ burn ” of the subject “fire.”
But let us inquire whether any link or tie is absolutely necessary to unite words in a sentence; whether the mere juxtaposition is not enough ; and whether there may not be predication without a finite verb.
In Latin we frequently find such forms as these :-Numen lumen; Victrix fortunde virtus ; Salus populi tex suprema ; Vox populi vox Dei, and many
similar sentences. Grammarians assert that the copula is omitted here, and that est, ‘is,' must be understood,' as they phrase it. But that is the very point at issue. : What they. mean is that they think it ought to be there, and they tell us to supply it. We contend that it is not there; and that, if the Latin does not want it, neither do we.
In Hebrew, the union of Subject and Predicate is most commonly expressed by simply writing them together, without any copula ; as 'Jehovah mighty,' for Jehovah is mighty ;' so, “The gold of that land good' (Genesis ii. 12), for The gold of that land is good.' In Zechariah xiii. 9, our version reads :-'I will say, It is my people; and they shall say,
The Lord is my God;' but the original has it, 'I will say, My people he; and he shall
God.' Less frequently the copula is expressed by the verb hayah, be.' See Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, § 141.
In Chinese there are no parts of speech in the sense recognised by us; but difference of meaning depends upon the order of words. Thus, ta fu means ' a great man;' but fu ta signifies the man is great.' See Max Müller, Science of Lañ- . guage, Second Series, p. 85.
There is room to doubt whether any copula, link, or tie is absolutely necessary in a sentence. We are accustomed to expect it in English and other languages; and we are ready to infer that where it is not found, we must supply some connecting link. Here we may perhaps do well to revise our judgment.
We should also beware of rashness in applying logical terms to Grammar. We have reason to fear that nothing but confusion must result from an attempt to strain the logical terms beyond the purposes for which they were originally designed. It is always more or less dangerous to transfer the nomenclature of one science to another; and if we can do so at all, we should endeavour to alter the signification of the terms as little as possible. This, however, we may do: if we wish to adapt the logical method, or any part of it, to grammatical purposes, we may modify the terms to suit the requirements of Grammar.
A valuable suggestion is offered by Professor Key in his Latin Grammar, 847. He says:- Some grammarians are in the habit of treating those sentences which have the verb be as the forms to which all others are to be reduced. Hence they divide a sentence into three parts :
The Subject, that of which you speak;
predicate. Thus, for instance, in the sentence or proposition “ Man is an animal," man is the subject, animal the predicate, is the copula.
“The subject according to this system is the nominative case. When, instead of the verb be, another verb is used, they resolve it into some part of the verb be and a participle. Thus, Cicero writes a letter, is resolved into Cicero is writing a letter; where Cicero is the subject, writing a letter the predicate, is the copula.
• The substantive, adjective, or participle that accompanies the verb be as a predicate, is in Latin made to agree in case