Some grammatical doubts in regard to English construction,

be posterior to the command. But though the anonymous remarker formerly quoted is in the right as to the particular expressions criticised by him, he decides too generally, and seems to have imagined that in no case ought the preterperfect of the infinitive, to follow the preterit of the indicative. If this was his opinion, he was egregiously mistaken. It is however agreed on both sides, that, in order to express the past with the defective verb ought, we must use the perfect of the infinitive, and say, for example,

ample," he ought to

“ “ bave done it ;" this in that verb being the only possible way

of distinguishing the past from the present,


THERE is only one other observation of Dr Lowth, on which, before I conclude this article, I must beg leave to offer some remarks, " Phrases like the fol“ lowing, though very common, are improper : Much

depends upon the rule's being observed ; and error " will be the consequence of its being neglected. For “ here is a noun and a pronoun representing it, each “ in the possessive case, that is, under government of “ another noun, but without other noun to govern

it : “ for being observed, and being neglected, are not

nouns: nor can you supply the place of the posses" sive case by the preposition of before the noun or

*" For my part, notwithstanding what is here very speciously urged, I am not satisfied that there is any fault in the phrases censured. They ap

pronoun *."

* Introduction, Sc. Sentences, Note on the 6th Phrase.

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the ans

right: he dec

that e, to fix

pear to me to be perfectly in the idiom of our tongue, ånd such as on some occasions could not easily be avoided, unless by recurring to circumlocution, an expedient which invariably tends to enervate the expression. But let us examine the matter more nearly.


erer agre

paste perfect

! 2 ought

2 only 7 e preses

This author admits that the active participle may be employed as a noun, and has given some excellent directions regarding the manner in which it ought to be construed, that the


distinction may be preserved between the noun and the gerund. Phrases like these therefore he would have admitted as unexceptionable, “ Much depends upon their observing of “ the rule, and error will be the consequence of their

neglecting of it.” Now, though I allow both the modes of expression to be good, I think the first simpler and better than the second. Let us consider whether the former be liable to any objections, which do not equally affect the latter.

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66 You can

ernment a gorent, are my

he postes

noun a

One principal objection to the first is, " not supply the place of the possessive case by the " preposition of before the noun or pronoun.” Right; but before you draw any conclusion from this circumstance, try whether it will not equally affect both expressions ; for if it does, both are on this account to be rejected, or neither. In the first, the sentence will be made to run thus : “ Much depends upon the being observed of the rule, and error will be the con

sequence of the being neglected of it.” Very bad

ng what Isfied that

They are



Some grammatical doubts in regard to English constructiull,

without question. In the second, thus : " Much de

pends upon the observing of them of the rule, and “ error will be the consequence of the neglecting of them of it.” Still worse. But it may be thought that as, in the last example, the participial noun gets a double regimen, this occasions all the impropriety and confusion. I shall therefore make the experiment on a more simple sentence. " Much will de

pend on your pupil's composing, but more on his read

ing frequently.” Would it be English to say, “ Much will depend on the composing of your pupil, “ but more on the reading of bim frequently? '-No certainly. If this argument then prove any thing, it proves too much, and consequently can be no criterion.

The only otlier objection mentioned is, that “ being observed and being neglected, are not nouns. It is acknowledged that in the common acceptation of the word, they are not nouns, but passive participles; neither is the active participle commonly a noun, neither is the infinitive of the verb active or pas

, sive, a noun. Yet the genius of the tongue permits that all these may be construed as nouns in certain occurrences.

The infinitive in particular is employed substantively when it is made either the nominative or the regimen of a verh. Now in this way not the infinitive only, but along with it all the words in construction are understood as one compound noun, as in the examples following :“ To love God and our uergh.


stated and examined.

bour is a duty incumbent on us all,” and “ The

gospel strongly inculcates on us this important les

son, to love God and our neighbour.” But in no other situation can such clauses supply the place of nouns. They are never used in construction with other nouns followed by a preposition. The quotation brought from Spenser is, I suspect, a mere Grecism, which was not in his time more than it is at present conformable to the English idiom. For is the only preposition that seems ever to have been construed with such clauses, after another verb. And even this usage is now totally laid aside.

I am of opinion, therefore, upon the whole, that as the idiom in question is analogical, supported by good use, and sometimes very expedient, it ought not to be entirely repudiated.


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