Графични страници
PDF файл

might be the melancholy speech of a hen-pecked husband.

It must have been already observed that the auxiliaries, which we have mentioned, coalesce more closely to the infinitives that follow them than other verbs can be made to do: it is a distinguishing characteristic of the class. "I wish to read," “ I learn to read," and I love to read," show the manner of the junction of ordinary verbs; while “I may read,” “ I can read,” and “I must read," show that of the auxiliaries. In the former case, the to is prefixed to the infinitives; in the latter it is discarded. The arrangement of our language, by placing the auxiliaries before, instead of after, the principal verbs, has prevented that closer union which, in the form of contractions, would have given us moods and tenses in the shape of terminations. It is the tendency of all languages to combine monosyllables into polysyllables,-roots into compounds; and to untie the rudely-twisted knots is the fruitless never-ending labour of the etymologist.

There are a few other words which belong to an intermediate tribe between ordinary verbs and auxiliaries. They, too, dispense with the prefix to in their following infinitives ; but, being transitive, they require an interjected accusative. The following are of this class : To hear, to let, to make, to feel, to see, and to bid. Thus:


I heard him say so,

I felt him touch me,
I let him do it,

I him steal,
I made him do it,

I bade him go away. There are, however, occasional deviations from this practice, especially in the verb To bid. Smollet writes, "He bade them to open their bundles ;" and Goldsmith, more harmoniously,

“ Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom.” To Need, to want, or to be in want of, is akin to those above-mentioned, but is something different in its usage. The to of the succeeding infinitive is requisite in the affirmative sentence, but not in the negative. Thus we say, needs to go, or “I need to go ;” but “He needs not go” or “I need not go" when the negative intervenes. Young writers are apt to confound the third person singular of this verb with the adverb Needs; because they have the same orthography: “He must needs go" signifies “ He must necessarily go :" a necessity, however, arising from some want, or need, of his own rather than from outward compulsion. Shakspeare seems to consider it as dependent on the will.

“ He was a foole,
For he would needs be vertuous.”

" He

The extensive application of the word need (from the slightest occasional use to the most

urgent necessity,) gave frequent opportunities to our great Bard for exhibiting his punning propensities: Thus, in Timon of Athens,

“Oh you gods, what need we have any friends; if we should nere have need of 'em ? They were the most needlesse creatures living; should we nere have use for 'em."

And again in Hamlet,

6. And hitherto doth Love on Fortune tend,

For who not needs shall never lacke a Frend : And who in want a hollow Frend doth try, Directly seasons him his Enemie.”





When speaking of tenses we have hitherto confined ourselves to the present and the past. In reality there are no future actions; they exist only in anticipation. Nevertheless, those embryo beings,--the creations of hope or of fear,play a splendid part on the theatre of human thought. The past soon loses its interest ;-the present (if there be a present) has only a momentary duration; and we may be truly said to live among the nonentities of the future.

Actions that are to come can only be contemplated through our present conception of how they may be produced. All past actions are necessary, otherwise they would not have been; and the thoughts, or things (termed causes), which preceded and are supposed to have produced them, are left for the investigation of the historian; but, in looking forward to the future, we perceive nothing but causes, for there is no action previous to their exertion.

We may conceive actions to arise from three different sources; and consequently they are divisible into as many kinds :

1. Voluntary, that is, such as follow the Will of the Agent.

2. Compulsory,—such as follow the Will, or Power of a being different from the Agent.

3. Contingent,--such as are either not referrible to any known cause, or which we chuse to consider as simply future.

To express these three several divisions, we make use of only two auxiliaries, will and shall.

To Will (Saxon willan,) with some change of conjugation, though a little antiquated, still exists in our language as a regular verb. * I will," " Thou willest,” “He wills,” “ We willed," &c. express the consent or desire of their nominatives ; and hence the defective auxiliary is well fitted to mark a voluntary future.

Shall is the Saxon scealan, to owe, or to be obliged ; and therefore properly applies to any prediction of a compulsory kind. In very old English, it was the only future auxiliary, Will being then restricted to its regular meaning.

So far all is well, but how, with only these two words, will and shall, can we designate an act which is purely contingent,~a simple future ? The Germans use the verb werden, to become, for

« ПредишнаНапред »