Page images


66 The

211. When the relation of ownership is to be pointed out, the Possessive Case of the noun denoting the owner is used : thus, “This is John's hat.” Here the relation of ownership is to be declared as existing between the person John and the thing hat, and consequently the name of the possessor is put in the possessive case. This construction generally takes place between two nouns; but it may exist between a noun and the imperfect participle of a verb; as, clamour of the church's being in danger was revived.”Goldsmith. In such sentences, however, the noun is not always in the possessive.

212. If the name of the owner be a compound name, the last of the component parts only receives the sign of the possessive : thus, “ the Queen of Great Britain's prero tive;" also when there are two separate names, as,

“ Robertson and Reid's office.”

213. The name of the thing possessed is often understood; as, “ He went to see St Paul's,” that is, St Paul's Church. This ellipsis accounts for the difference in meaning between the two sentences, “ This is a portrait of John,” and “This is a portrait of John's.” The former means a likeness of him, the latter a portrait belonging to him or painted by him, as the case may be.

214. The use of the possessive case, though quite analogical, is sometimes objectionable, and it is better to adopt the periphrasis, which imparts dignity and harmony to the sentence. See the examples given among the sentences to be corrected, 4, 5, 6, and 7.


1. Real greatness has nothing to do with a man's sphere.Channing.

2. So ended Hannibal's first campaign in Italy.- Arnold.

3. Napoleon evinced the greatest satisfaction at the result of this day's operations, and at thus seeing so great a mass of the enemy's forces retreating before him.-Alison.

4. The end of literature was not, in Schiller's judgment, to amuse the idle.-Carlyle.

5. Edward pretended to take the air, with some of Leicester's retinue.--Hume.

6. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Cæsar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Cæsar was no less than his.Shakspeare.

7. Oh! for our admirable friend Mr Smith of Jordanhill's matchless cutter, to glide through among the glittering archipelago. - Professor Wilson.

8. It would not be difficult to find several other instances of verbal equivocations misplaced and inconsistent with the person's, the author's, the reader's sentiment.-Hallam.

9. A spirit more amiable, but less vigorous, than Luther's, would have shrunk back from the dangers which he braved and surmounted.

Robertson. 10. Those who formed the popular party in Charles the Second's time.- Arnold.

11. A reflection of La Harpe's, occasioned by some strictures of Voltaire's upon Montesquieu, applies, &c.—Stewart.

12. His character afforded but little security against his conduct being influenced by some of the contending feelings arising out of so strange a combination.- Arnold.

13. Men’s aims are ever far beyond their strength.-Carlyle. 14.

Is it well to trust Imagination's light, when reason's failsThe unguarded taper where the guarded faints !-Wordsworth.

SENTENCES TO BE CORRECTED.-211-214. 1. Longinus, his treatise on the Sublime.-Addison.

2. Like Shakspeare, his genius is sublime and his imagination unbounded.-Tytler.

3. It is indeed little worth while to read this or any other book for reputation sake.-Hallam.

4. Now, in a commonwealth or state, that common life which I have ventured to call the proper subject of history, finds its natural expression in those who are invested with the state's government. Arnold.

5. History is but time's follower.- Idem. 6. Now history's business is to solve these riddles.-M*Cullagh.

7. Lured into perdition's stream by such temptation as no other man hath had since Cortez's time.--Idem.

RULE III.- OBJECTIVE CASE. 215. Active transitive verbs and prepositions take the Objective Case after them : thus, “ Do justice, love mercy,

and walk humbly with God.” In this sentence, justice and mercy are in the objective, being affected by the verbs do and love respectively; and God is also in the objective, being the object of the relation pointed out by the preposition with.

216. The distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs, as we formerly (47) saw, is not so marked that we can in every case pronounce a word to belong to the one class and exclude it totally from the other; but even in some cases where the verb cannot be considered transitive at all, it is followed by a noun apparently affected by it, and therefore said to be in the objective case. The noun, however, in such instances, is closely allied in meaning to the verb : “ I have fought the good fight.” Here fight is in the objective, governed by fought. To run a race," “ live a life,” and “sleep a sleep,” are phrases of the same kind.


[ocr errors]

1. Leicester, having thus assembled a parliament of his own model, and trusting to the attachment of the populace of London, seized the opportunity of crushing his rivals among the powerful barons.Hume.

2. On the whole we may pronounce him happy.-Carlyle.

3. Napoleon was never known to change his opinion on any subject.-Alison.

4. The situation of Julian required a vigorous and immediate resolution.-Gibbon.

5. It remains with you to decide, whether that freedom, at whose voice the kingdoms of Europe awoke from the sleep of ages to run a career of virtuous emulation in every thing great and good; the freedom which dispelled the mists of superstition and invited the nations to behold their God; whose magic touch kindled the rays of genius, &c.-Hall.

6. You have trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all gentleman-like qualities.-Shakspeare. 7. Acquaint thyself with God, if thou wouldst taste His works.

Cowper. 8. We sail the sea of life-a calm one finds, And one a tempest.

Wordsworth. 9. Sleep the sleep that knows not waking. Scott.

217. Some active transitive verbs appear to take two objective cases after them ; but it is much more consistent with the analogy of the language to understand a preposi

tion : thus, “ He sent me the book," where me and book are both in the objective. It is quite clear that book is the thing immediately affected by the verb sent, it therefore must be in the objective; but as to me, it seems most natural to understand the preposition to, when the sentence would be, “ He sent the book to me.“ He was excluded the throne.” -Goldsmith. Here from is understood. We may remark generally, that after the form of the verb called passive, an objective may be put—a preposition being understood. Ellipses of this sort are quite common, and it is altogether unnecessary to bring in any new rule or principle to account for idiomatic expressions thus produced. *

218. Under this rule we may further observe, that all words denoting measure, whether of time or space, are capable of being put in the objective, a preposition being understood. Thus, in the sentences, “ The wall is seven feet high,” “I vas three days in the country,” the words feet and days are in the objective, the preposition for or during being understood. As, however, the nominative and objective of all nouns in English are alike, this remark must be allowed to be of limited utility.

219. The infinitive of a verb, or the clause of a sentence, is frequently the objective after, as it may (203) be the nominative before, a verb.

Thus Carlyle says,

" He went on speaking to who would listen to him,” when the words in italics are equivalent to an objective case, e. g. hearers.

220. Some grammarians–Lowth and Murray may be named—are inclined to lay it down as a rule, that a sentence should not end with a preposition; but the best

[ocr errors]

This explanation of the phrases “Give it me," " Send him the book,” &c.,

is not universally received as correct, and still less as complete. There are cases in which it must be admitted that there are two objectives after a transitive verb--the one of a person, and the other of a thing; as, “ He taught me grammar.” The other account of the matter is, that me, him, &c., are truly dative cases. Mr Latham, English Language, p. 218, says, The words him and them (to which we may add her and whom) were once dative cases ; m in Anglo-Saxon being the sign of the dative case. In the time of the Anglo-Saxons, their sense coincided with their form. At present they are dative forms with an accusative meaning. To say give it to him, &c., is unnecessary and pedantic."




writers have not uniformly observed the rule, and, consequently, it must not be announced as binding. Perhaps most, however, will agree with Hallam, that “ though the form (of terminating with a preposition] is sometimes emphatic and spirited, its frequent use appears slovenly.” It is not often that this distinguished critic descends to merely grammatical points, but when he does, he is worth listening to. Speaking of Dryden, Hallam says, “ His Essay on Dramatic Poesy, published in 1668, was reprinted sixteen years afterwards, and it is curious to observe the changes which Dryden made in the expression. Malone has carefully noted all these ; they show both the care the author took with his own style, and the change which was gradually working in the English language. The Anglicism of terminating the sentence with a preposition is rejected. Thus, “I cannot think so contemptibly of the age I live in,' is exchanged for “ The age in which I live.' A deeper expression of belief than all the actor can persuade us to, is altered, 'can insinuate into us.' And, though the old form continued in use long after the time of Dryden, it has of late years been reckoned inelegant, and proscribed in all cases, perhaps with an unnecessary fastidiousness, to which I have not uniformly deferred ; since our language is of Teutonic structure, and the rules of Latin or French grammar are not always to bind us. .* After quoting from the venerable Hooker the sentence “ Is there a God to swear by, and is there none to believe in, none to trust to?” Mr Richard Sharp, Letters and Essays, p. 3, adds, “ What becomes of the force and simplicity of this short sentence, when turned into the clumsy English which schoolmasters indite and which little boys can construe? “Is there a God by whom to swear, and is there none in whom to believe, none to whom to pray ?!”


1. Six months had brought Hannibal no fairer prospect of victory.- Arnold.

2. Give every man thine ear.-Shakspeare.

3. Give us this day our daily bread. [Account for the three objectives.]

* Introduction to the Literature of Europe, vol. iv. p. 534.

« PreviousContinue »