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thising inflections are carried to a prodigious length in the classical languages; the adjective being inflected with the noun,
in gender, number, and case ; loading the memory with mere incumbrances, which are useful only by chance. On occasions of great emphasis, the iteration of the person in the verb has a certain majesty and force; ego sum Romanus, 'I am a Roman man', is very dignified; and the dignity is enhanced by the inflections. The phrase 'I AM' to express the Deity, receives dignity from the support lent to the 'I' by the inflected form 'am'. By our second person singular a similar emphasis is conferred in religious worship.
Respecting Inflection for NUMBER, we may make the same remarks. It is merely a concord; it repeats in the verb what is already given in the noun.
It is therefore a superfluity; but may occasionally strengthen the meaning. It is also useful when the noun is unchanged for number; but had the expression of number been left to the noun, there would always have been some way of distinguishing the plural from the singular.
That this inflection is of no great moment is proved by its being absent from our past tense (except in the second person singular), and from both present and past in the auxiliaries -shall, will, may, can, must. Under the name-
--Moon have been included the Imperative form of the verb, the Participle, the Infinitive, and the Gerund.
The Imperative is the form of the verb for giving direction and command, as well as for expressing entreaty or supplication. It is not the form of law or obligation, as the name 'imperative' would imply. We may resolve it into an affirmation : 'it is my wish or desire that you do so and so'. But the situation of directing, commanding, entreating, was likely to have made a form for itself, among the very earliest modifications of the verb.
The Participle, Infinitive, and Gerund, do not contain the main function of the verb-affirmation; yet, as they perform other functions special to the verb, they are still attached
it, rather than to the other parts of speech that they severally incline to.
It will always be a delicate exercise of grammatical ingenuity to discriminate the Participle, the Infinitive in ‘ing’, the Gerund in ‘ing', and the Verbal Noun in 'ing'. Some additional examples of each are here subjoined. It will be convenient to begin with the Infinitive.
The characteristics of the Infinitive, in both its forms, are these :
1. It cannot affirm or deny.
2. It may take an object, like any other part of the verb: 'to do nothing', 'doing nothing'.
3. It may take an adverb, like any other part of the verb: not to do anything', 'doing nothing well', 'not to reply would be acting contemptuously'.
4. It may be the subject or the object of a sentence, like a Noun: 'to do nothing is not always pleasant'; 'he dislikes doing nothing'.
Very commonly the infinitive gives up its formal place as subject or as object, mostly in favour of a provisional pronoun-it, this, that. The anticipation of the infinitive by means of 'it' is exceedingly frequent. • It was not easy to wound his feelings'; 'my generous patron had it not in his power to introduce me personally': 'it' is the formal subject in the one case, and the formal object in the other, while the infinitives 'to wound' and 'to introduce', which are the real subject and object, are formally said to be in apposition to the pronoun. In careful writing, the form in ‘to' has a monopoly of this usage.
5. It may take an adjective or a possessive, like a noun. This is the nicest point in connection with the infinitives. A modifying word along with an infinitive is properly an adverb, and not an adjective; so far as qualification is concerned, the infinitives retain their verb character : to go soon’; 'I preferred speaking last'.
The adjectives that can be employed are mainly demonstratives (including the definite article) ; that changing the hour was a mistake'. The demonstrative is really a shortened adverbial phrase, or the equivalent of an adverb: changing the hour, on that occasion, in that way, so, was a mistake'.
The sending away the messengers led to the surrendering the point'. This is a much curtailed form; the article is a remnant of a more circumstantial account; 'the act or circumstance, namely, sending away the messengers led to the act or effect-surrendering the point'.
The possessive coupled with the infinitive is also a condensed form. When, in order to save a clause, a finite verb is thrown into the infinitive, the subject of the verb is transformed into a possessive, thus : ‘Luther burnt the Pope's bull, and the Reformation followed '-' Luther's burning the Pope's bull brought about the Reformation'. In its new position the subject may be considered as adverbial, just as, in changing from the active to the passive voice, the subject becomes an adverbial phrase of agency (the bull was burnt by Luther). Much depends on Richard's observing the rule, his neglecting it will give trouble '. * Much depends on observing, by Richard (or on the part of Richard), the rule; neglecting it, by him, will give trouble'. The expanded form is—“Much depends on the fact that Richard observes the rule'.
6. The infiniti in 'ing' may have a preposition before it, like the noun. The other infinitive is already made up with the preposition 'to', and cannot easily take a second : but the 'ing' form is adapted to receive prepositions generally. These prepositions are, in
many instances, transformed conjunctions : 'before your deciding' is equal to 'before you decide'; 'on his reading the letter', 'when he read the letter'. For “after they had supped', we may have after their supping', 'after supping'.
7. The infinitive in 'to' is not unfrequently used with the force of an adverb. This usage may be compared with the preceding (6). Examples are: “You wronged yourself
to write in such a case', 'I am glad to have met you'. The adverbial meaning may be brought out in other forms; as by writing, in having written, I am glad of having met you, from having met you, because I have met you.
Examples of the Infinitive. "We propose drawing a few lessons', or we propose
to draw'. * To learn the art of being content is to realise a chief condition of our being happy'.
Being without work is one thing, reposing from work is another thing'.
In these two examples, the action of the verb is stated without a subject; which is the same convenience as we obtain from the passive voice.
* Easy writing is hard reading'. Here the infinitives are accompanied, each with an adjective of quality; which is decidedly irregular. Either the adjectives should be adverbs, or the infinitives should become nouns in the full
The expression is epigrammatic and curt. The full form is—What is written with ease is read with difficulty'.
“There is no saying' is for 'one cannot say'. The adjective 'no' is an adaptation of not’.
He made a great to do’ is a manifest licence of expression. It is a step farther removed from regularity than the foregoing examples in ‘ing'. What may be allowed with the infinitive that is in close assimilation to the noun, is felt in all its incongruity when transferred to the other form.
Reading maketh a full man'. To read' could not be used here. The form 'reading' states the persistent habit of reading, which is not given by the infinitive with to'. Single and isolated acts, or brief exertions, are better suited by this last form: 'to refuse consent would be unsafe', said of some one occasion.
“The suffering Ireland to send anything to these colonies, to bring anything directly from thence, is itself a favour'. For 'the suffering' we should prefer 'to suffer', or simply “suffering'. But when one infinitive hangs upon another,
there is a case for restoring the finite verb: 'If we suffer Ireland to send anything
-'. • To recover Silesia, to humble the dynasty of Hohenzollern to the dust, was the great object of Maria Theresa's life’.
• To subsist in bones, and be but pyramidally extant, is a fallacy in duration'. (Sir T. Browne.)
• To see with one's own eyes men and countries, is better than reading all the books of travel in the world'.
• It is much better to be a little cautious, than to run any risk'.
* What he and they called levying war was, in truth, no better than instigating murder'.
A pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun'.
For Miss Richland to undertake setting him free, I own, was quite unexpected'.
'I never shall forget the waking next morning; the being cheerful and fresh for the first moment, and then the being weighed down by the stale and dismal oppression of remembrance'. (Dickens.)
* This fiddling, shouting, bawling, I detest'.
* No sighs but of my breathing, no tears but of my shedding'.
* Harry was charmed to see his tutor'.
· The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
To see the red blood flow'. • I flattered myself with the hopes of his interesting himself in favour of the tragedy'.
'I could assure myself of Mr. Vandal's being unengaged to any other author'.
* I waited a few days in expectation of its being put in rehearsal'.
1. It cannot of itself affirm or deny; it is no part of the finite verb.