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they are made up of significant words put together in such a way as to limit the meaning to one individual person or thing. Allowance must be made for this wide-spread usage; we call such names' significant and singular names'. They do not in any way conflict with what is said of the common, general, or significant class name; they merely teach us that by two or more such names we can confine or narrow a meaning to such a degree that only one object is found to comply with it.
The Adjective is distinguished by converting a class into some narrower class—tower, square tower; by putting several adjectives or equivalents to one noun, we may sometimes succeed in narrowing it to an individual. This, however, is done most effectually by the possessive adjectives, 'my', our', 'your', &c.,-because it will often happen that the possessor has only one of the kind named —my horse, your watch. The demonstratives, 'this', 'that', and the definite article, have a singularizing force.
The larger number of Abstract Nouns are formed from Adjectives :-truth, goodness, curiosity, honesty, wisdom, silence. They convey the meaning of the Adjective, in separation, or abstraction : truth means what is common to true assertions : wisdom, what is common to wise men or wise actions. They express not the agreeing things, but the fact of agreement; and this has necessarily a singular meaning. Hence they cannot be plural, nor have the indefinite article: we do not say 'wisdoms', a goodness'. This is their grammatical peculiarity. They may be found with the definite article, 'the wisdom'.
The Abstract Noun is known, first, from the meaning. We are aware that the word 'depth' signifies in separation the same as the adjective 'deep' in combination with the things; the word 'righteousness' is understood to mean what is common to righteous actions.
It may be known, next, from appearing in a singular form, without the indefinite article, or any of the substitutes for it. (See INDEFINITE ARTICLE.) 'Honesty does not supersede wisdom'. 'honesty' and 'wisdom' being nouns in the singular without the article, are either Proper, Material, or Abstract. If we know from the sense that they are neither proper nor material, we must set them down as Abstract.
Third, an Abstract Noun is known by its derivation, a help that is not to be dispensed with. In the Adjective Abstracts, an adjective is compounded with one or other of a known class of terminations, as th (dearth), ness (soundness), ty (rapidity), ce (violence); or with some of the rare forms : (wisdom), hardship, bravery, hardihood.
Much greater grammatical importance attaches to the abstract nouns formed from Verbs: conviction, division, hesitation, gravitation, obligation, conversation, procrastination, seclusion, belief, proof, birth, death, life, work, talk, knowledge, understanding, feeling, pleasure, passion, judgment, slaughter, laughter, dinner, announcement, reliance, allowance, excuse, marriage, reproach, learning, censure, failure, tenure. These words are naturally singular, and do not take the article (indefinite). But besides this they are often construed in the manner of the verb, as will be afterwards pointed out at length.
A few examples will show the grammatical similarity between them and the other abstracts. · Division of labour', gravitation is as the inverse square of the distance', 'death comes to all', 'he likes work', 'knowledge to them her ample page unrolls', 'pleasure is not wrong in itself', 'announcement is made—', reproach is due—', 'learning ennobles a man', 'he detests flattery', 'flight or retreat was hopeless', 'the muscles are strengthened by growth', 'they gave much attention to the tillage of the ground. In all such cases the nouns are construed in the singular without the indefinite article, and do not admit of the plural. The meaning is the same as if the corresponding verb were used in each case:—to divide labouring, to gravitate or gravitating, to die, to work, to know, knowing, to be pleased, announcing, to be reproached,
to have learned, flattering or being flattered, to flee or to retreat, growing, attending (they attended much), tilling. Such verbal abstracts are thus the equivalents of the cognaate verbs; they give the action of the verb generally, and this constitutes a singular idea. The exceptions will be alluded to presently.
In the examples hitherto given, the nouns are plainly derived, one class from adjectives, the other class from verbs. There are, however, nouns where we do not readily trace either mode of derivation, and yet we must, from the grammatical analogy, regard them as abstract. Such are- -grace, sin, law, nature, mind, art, time, space, fire, light, heat, power, prin. ciple, industry, war, peace. Some of these words are more or less remote derivatives of adjectives or nouns; while some are possibly identified with the earliest names of the language, which are names of action, or verbs. They are all employed as abstract terms, while they are nearly all used also as class
We can, in many instances, historically explain those abstract nouns that do not point to any adjective or verb. I append examples.
• Grace' is not traceable to any English word, adjective or verb. We know, however, that it is practically the meaniny of the adjectives 'graceful', 'gracious': it does duty for
gracefulness', graciousness' Accordingly, we may set it down as an adjective abstract. If, now, we trace it to Lat. gratia, from (adj.) gratus, our practical test is confirmed by the historical derivation.
'Industry' is an adjective abstract cognate with “industrious': it gives the meaning of 'industriousness'. But historically, 'industry' can scarcely be said to be derived from 'industrious': the two have come into English side by side, representing Lat. industria and (adj.) industrius, the one being derived from the other.
Capture’ is a verb abstract, but it cannot be traced to any verb in English. It is Lat. captura, from capio (I take) : we consider ourselves in want of the noun, but not of the parent verb. But without knowing the history of the word, we
should have been led by its meaning to say that it is the equivalent of 'taking', and thus a verb abstract.
• Commerce' has no cognate verb in English. Yet it bears exactly the same meaning as 'trading ’, whence we may at once, for all practical purposes, call it a verb abstract. The historical account of it takes us back to Lat. commercium, and thence to commercor (I trade, traffic): we took the noun and left the verb.
‘Peace' means practically peacefulness', and may consequently be regarded as an adjective abstract. If, however, we look into the antecedents of 'peace', we shall find that the Lat. pax is historically a verb abstract with the sense of ' bargaining', 'agreeing'. Thus the practical view would be out of harmony with the historical origin of the word. But in such an instance, there is perhaps little advantage in pushing the pupil too closely. There are many words whose derivation cannot be stated with absolute certainty; and in remote or doubtful cases, the teacher (of Grammar-not of Philology) may reasonably be satisfied when the pupil knows the force of such words for practical use.
A few abstract nouns are formed from nouns, and express state; as kingship, generalship, lordship, statesmanship, statecraft, friendship, manhood, brotherhood, heroism, journalism, bondage, slavery, bigotry, bankruptcy :-the state of a king, &c. • Virtue' in the Latin is of this kind literally manhood', or ‘manship’.
Use of Adjective Abstract Nouns as Common Nouns.
Many abstract nouns both are found in the plural, and take the indefinite article in the singular: 'truths, a truth'; 'forces, a force'. In such cases, they have departed from their character as abstract nouns, and have been turned into common or class nouns; truths' means not the property of being true, the fact common to all true statements, but the class 'true statements’ itself. A truth' means a true doctrine, statement, or fact. “A force means an example or exercise of force, as the force of gravity, the force of the wind; not the abstract property-force,
* Virtue', abstract, the quality common to virtuous actions and virtuous men : a virtue, virtues ', kinds or species of virtue; 'prudence is a virtue, and one of the four cardinal virtues'.
'Genius', abstract, the attribute common to certain men of great intellectual endowments : 'a genius, geniuses', the nien themselves : ‘he has a genius for mechanics' means that he is capable of mechanical invention—that his genius lies in the department of mechanics.
Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows '. "Misery', abstract noun for what is common to miserable beings. 'A misery' is a single experience of misery; 'miseries' are either single experiences, or else species of misery—the miseries of being poor, of being unhealthy, of being oppressed.
'Variety', abstract (from various'), the general circumstance of varying our occupations and pleasures, instead of being confined to some single pursuit. ‘A variety' and 'varieties' mean differing modes of things.
Curiosity', the abstract state of inind, called also being curious, interested, anxious to know, 'a curiosity, curiosities', a class of things that inspire the feeling of being curious, or gratify it by their rare, remarkable, or distinguished character, as a cabinet of curiosities', 'the curiosities of literature'. Scotchmen will say 'I have a curiosity to know that man', which would mean an impulse of curiosity; but this is a gratuitous departure from the form 'I am curious to know'.
There is something unsatisfactory in the use of the abstract word in the following sentence of Hume: *The curiosity, entertained by the civilized nations, of enquiring into the exploits and adventures of their ancestors, commonly excites a regret— It would sound a little better thus—The feeling of curiosity, common to all civilized nations, disposing them to enquire'. "The curiosity of enquiring' can hardly be construed upon any received principle. We should say, with propriety, the 'curiosity of the