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The Grammar of English Grammars by Gould Brown

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grammars are the following: "The positive state expresses the quality of an
object, without any increase or diminution; as, good, wise, great. The
comparative degree increases or lessens the positive in signification; as,
wiser, greater, less wise. The superlative degree increases or lessens the
positive to the highest or [the] lowest degree; as, wisest, greatest, least
wise. The simple word, or positive, becomes [the] comparative by adding _r_
or _er_; and the superlative by adding _st_ or _est_, to the end of it.
And the adverbs _more_ and _most_, placed before the adjective, have the
same effect; as, wise, _more_ wise, _most_ wise."--_Murray's Grammar_, 2d
Ed., 1796, p. 47. If a man wished to select some striking example of bad
writing--of thoughts ill conceived, and not well expressed--he could not do
better than take the foregoing: provided his auditors knew enough of
grammar to answer the four simple questions here involved; namely, What is
the positive degree? What is the comparative degree? What is the
superlative degree? How are adjectives regularly compared? To these
questions I shall furnish _direct answers_, which the reader may compare
with such as he can derive from the foregoing citation: the last two
sentences of which Murray ought to have credited to Dr. Lowth; for he
copied them literally, except that he says, "the adverbs _more_ AND
_most_," for the Doctor's phrase, "the adverbs _more_ OR _most_." See the
whole also in _Kirkham's Grammar_, p. 72; in _Ingersoll's_, p. 35; in
_Alger's_, p. 21; in _Bacon's_, p. 18; in _Russell's_, p. 14; in
_Hamlin's_, p. 22; in _J. M. Putnam's_, p. 33; in _S. Putnam's_, p. 20; in
_R. C. Smith's_, p. 51; in _Rev. T. Smith's_, p. 20.

OBS. 4.--In the five short sentences quoted above, there are more errors,
than can possibly be enumerated in ten times the space. For example: (1.)
If one should say of a piece of iron, "It grows cold or hot very rapidly,"
_cold_ and _hot_ could not be in the "_positive state_," as they define it:
because, either the "quality" or the "object," (I know not which,) is
represented by them as "without any increase or diminution;" and this would
not, in the present case, be true of either; for iron changes in bulk, by a
change of temperature. (2.) What, in the first sentence, is erroneously
called "the positive _state_," in the second and the third, is called, "the
positive _degree_;" and this again, in the fourth, is falsely identified
with "the simple _word_." Now, if we suppose the meaning to be, that "the
positive state," "the positive degree," or "the simple word," is "without
any increase or diminution;" this is expressly contradicted by three
sentences out of the five, and implicitly, by one of the others. (3.) Not
one of these sentences is _true_, in the most obvious sense of the words,
if in any other; and yet the doctrines they were designed to teach, may
have been, in general, correctly gathered from the examples. (4.) The
phrase, "_positive in signification_," is not intelligible in the sense
intended, without a comma after _positive_; and yet, in an armful of
different English grammars which contain the passage, I find not one that
has a point in that place. (5.) It is not more correct to say, that the
comparative or the superlative degree, "increases or lessens the positive,"
than it would be to aver, that the plural number increases or lessens the
singular, or the feminine gender, the masculine. Nor does the superlative
mean, what a certain learned Doctor understands by it--namely, "_the
greatest or least possible degree_." If it did, "the _thickest_ parts of
his skull," for example, would imply small room for brains; "the
_thinnest_," protect them ill, if there were any. (6.) It is improper to
say, "_The simple word becomes_ [the] _comparative by adding r or er_; and
_the superlative by adding st or est_." The thought is wrong; and nearly
all the words are misapplied; as, _simple_ for _primitive, adding_ for
_assuming_, &c. (7.) Nor is it very wise to say, "the adverbs _more_ and
_most_, placed before the adjective, _have the same effect_:" because it
ought to be known, that the effect of the one is very different from that
of the other! "_The same effect_," cannot here be taken for any effect
previously described; unless we will have it to be, that these words,
_more_ and _most_, "become comparative by adding _r_ or _er_; and the
superlative by adding _st_ or _est_, to the end of them:" all of which is
grossly absurd. (8.) The repetition of the word _degree_, in saying, "The
superlative _degree_ increases or lessens the positive to the highest or
lowest _degree_," is a disagreeable tautology. Besides, unless it involves
the additional error of presenting the same word in different senses, it
makes one degree swell or diminish an other _to itself_; whereas, in the
very next sentence, this singular agency is forgotten, and a second equally
strange takes its place: "The positive _becomes_ the superlative by adding
_st_ or _est_, to the end of it;" i. e., to the end of _itself_. Nothing
can be more ungrammatical, than is much of the language by which grammar
itself is now professedly taught!

OBS. 5.--It has been almost universally assumed by grammarians, that the
positive degree is _the only standard_ to which the other degrees can
refer; though many seem to think, that the superlative always implies or
includes the comparative, and is consequently inapplicable when only two
things are spoken of. Neither of these positions is involved in any of the
definitions which I have given above. The reader may think what he will
about these points, after observing the several ways in which each form may
be used. In the phrases, "_greater_ than Solomon,"--"_more_ than a
bushel,"--"_later_ than one o'clock," it is not immediately obvious that
the positives _great, much_, and _late_, are the real terms of contrast.
And how is it in the Latin phrases, "_Dulcior melle_, sweeter than
honey,"--"_Praestantior auro_, better than gold?" These authors will resolve
all such phrases thus: "_greater_, than Solomon _was great_,"--"_more_,
than a bushel _is much_," &c. As the conjunction _than_ never governs the
objective case, it seems necessary to suppose an ellipsis of some verb
after the noun which follows it as above; and possibly the foregoing
solution, uncouth as it seems, may, for the English idiom, be the true one:
as, "My Father is _greater than I_."--_John_, xiv, 28. That is, "My Father
is greater _than I am_;"--or, perhaps, "than I am _great_." But if it
appear that _some_ degree of the same quality must always be contrasted
with the comparative, there is still room to question whether this degree
must always be that which we call the positive. Cicero, in exile, wrote to
his wife: "Ego autem hoc _miserior_ sum, quam tu, quae es _miserrima_, quod
ipsa calamitas communis est utriusque nostrum, sed culpa mea propria
est."--_Epist. ad Fam._, xiv, 3. "But in this I am _more wretched_, than
thou, who art _most wretched_, that the calamity itself is common to us
both, but the fault is all my own."

OBS. 6.--In my Institutes and First Lines of English Grammar, I used the
following brief definitions: "The _comparative degree_ is that which
exceeds the positive; as, _harder, softer, better_." "The _superlative
degree_ is that which is not exceeded; as, _hardest, softest, best_." And
it is rather for the sake of suggesting to the learner the peculiar
_application_ of each of these degrees, than from any decided
dissatisfaction with these expressions, that I now present others. The
first, however, proceeds upon the common supposition, that the comparative
degree of a quality, ascribed to any object, must needs be contrasted with
the positive in some other, or with the positive in the same at an other
time. This idea may be plausibly maintained, though it is certain that the
positive term referred to, is seldom, if ever, allowed to appear. Besides,
the comparative or the superlative _may_ appear, and in such a manner as to
be, or seem to be, in the point of contrast. Thus: "Objects near our view
are apt to be thought _greater than those of a larger size_, that are more
remote."--_Locke's Essay_, p. 186. Upon the principle above, the
explanation here must be, that the meaning is--"_greater_ than those of a
larger size _are thought great._" "The _poor_ man that loveth Christ, is
_richer than the richest man_ in the world, that hates him."--_Bunyan's
Pilgrim's Progress_, p. 86. This must be "_richer_ than the richest man _is
rich_." The riches contemplated here, are of different sorts; and the
comparative or the superlative of one sort, may be exceeded by either of
these degrees of an other sort, though the same epithet be used for both.
So in the following instances: "He that is _higher than the highest_
regardeth; and there be _higher than they_."--_Eccl._, v, 8. That is, "He
that is higher than the highest _earthly dignitaries_, regardeth; and there
are higher _authorities_ than _these._" "_Fairer_ than aught imagined else
_fairest_."--_Pollok_. "_Sadder than saddest_ night."--_Byron_. It is
evident that the superlative degree is not, in general, that which _cannot
be_ exceeded, but that which, in the actual state of the things included,
"_is_ not exceeded." Again, as soon as any given comparative or superlative
is, by a further elevation or intension of the quality, surpassed and
exceeded, that particular degree, whatever it was, becomes merely positive;
for the positive degree of a quality, though it commonly includes the very
lowest measure, and is understood to exceed nothing, may at any time
_equal_ the very highest. There is no paradox in all this, which is not
also in the following simple examples: "_Easier_, indeed, I was, but far
from _easy_."--_Cowper's Life_, p. 50.

"Who canst the _wisest wiser_ make,
And babes _as wise_ as they."--_Cowper's Poems_.

OBS. 7.--The relative nature of these degrees deserves to be further
illustrated. (1.) It is plain, that the greatest degree of a quality in one
thing, may be less than the least in an other; and, consequently, that the
least degree in one thing, may be greater than the greatest in an other.
Thus, the _heaviest_ wood is _less heavy_ than the _lightest_ of the
metals; and the _least valuable_ of the metals is perhaps of _more value_
than the _choicest_ wood. (2.) The comparative degree may increase upon
itself, and be repeated to show the gradation. Thus, a man may ascend into
the air with a balloon, and rise _higher_, and _higher_, and _higher_, and
_higher_, till he is out of sight. This is no uncommon form of expression,
and the intension is from comparative to comparative. (3.) If a ladder be
set up for use, one of its rounds will be _the highest_, and one other will
be _the lowest_, or _least high._ And as that which is _highest_, is
_higher_ than all the rest, so every one will be _higher_ than all below
it. _The higher rounds_, if spoken of generally, and without definite
contrast, will be those in the upper half; _the lower rounds_, referred to
in like manner, will be those in the lower half, or those not far from the
ground. _The highest rounds_, or _the lowest_, if we indulge such latitude
of speech, will be those near the top or the bottom; there being,
absolutely, or in _strictness_ of language, but _one_ of each. (4.) If _the
highest_ round be removed, or left uncounted, the next becomes the
_highest_, though not _so high_ as the former. For every one is _the
highest_ of the number which it completes. All admit this, till we come to
_three_. And, as the third is _the highest of the three_, I see not why the
second is not properly _the highest of the two_. Yet nearly all our
grammarians condemn this phrase, and prefer "_the higher of the two_." But
can they give a _reason_ for their preference? That the comparative degree
is implied between the positive and the superlative, so that there must
needs be three terms before the latter is applicable, is a doctrine which I
deny. And if the second is _the higher of the two_, because it is _higher
than the first_; is it not also _the highest of the two_, because it
_completes the number?_ (5.) It is to be observed, too, that as our ordinal
numeral _first_, denoting the one which begins a series, and having
reference of course to more, is an adjective of the superlative degree,
equivalent to _foremost_, of which it is perhaps a contraction; so _last_
likewise, though no numeral, is a superlative also. (6.) These, like other
superlatives, admit of a looser application, and may possibly include more
than one thing at the beginning or at the end of a series: as, "_The last
years_ of man are often helpless, like _the first_." (7.) With undoubted
propriety, we may speak of _the first two, the last two, the first three,
the last three_, &c.; but to say, _the two first, the two last_, &c., with
this meaning, is obviously and needlessly inaccurate. "_The two first men_
in the nation," may, I admit, be good English; but it can properly be meant
only of _the two most eminent._ In specifying any part of a _series_, we
ought rather to place the cardinal number after the ordinal. (8.) Many of
the foregoing positions apply generally, to almost all adjectives that are
susceptible of comparison. Thus, it is a common saying, "Take _the best
first_, and _all_ will be _best_." That is, remove that degree which is now
superlative, and the epithet will descend to an other, "_the next best._"

OBS. 8.--It is a common assumption, maintained by almost all our
grammarians, that the degrees which add to the adjective the terminations
_er_ and _est_, as well as those which are expressed by _more_ and _most_,
indicate an _increase_, or heightening, of the quality expressed by the
positive. If such must needs be their import, it is certainly very
improper, to apply them, as many do, to what can be only an approximation
to the positive. Thus Dr. Blair: "Nothing that belongs to human nature, is
_more universal_ than the relish of beauty of one kind or
other."--_Lectures_, p. 16. "In architecture, the Grecian models were long
esteemed _the most perfect_."--_Ib._, p. 20. Again: In his reprehension of
Capernaum, the Saviour said, "It shall be _more tolerable_ for the land of
Sodom, in the day of judgement, than for thee."--_Matt._, xi, 24. Now,
although [Greek: anektoteron], _more tolerable_, is in itself a good
comparative, who would dare infer from this text, that in the day of
judgement Capernaum shall fare _tolerably_, and Sodom, _still better_?
There is much reason to think, that the essential nature of these
grammatical degrees has not been well understood by those who have
heretofore pretended to explain them. If we except those few approximations
to sensible qualities, which are signified by such words as _whitish,
greenish, &c._, there will be found no actual measure, or inherent degree
of any quality, to which the simple form of the adjective is not
applicable; or which, by the help of intensive adverbs of a positive
character, it may not be made to express; and that, too, without becoming
either comparative or superlative, in the technical sense of those terms.
Thus _very white, exceedingly white, perfectly white_, are terms quite as
significant as _whiter_ and _whitest_, if not more so. Some grammarians,
observing this, and knowing that the Romans often used their superlative in
a sense merely intensive, as _altissimus_ for _very high_, have needlessly
divided our English superlative into two, "_the definite_, and the
_indefinite_;" giving the latter name to that degree which we mark by the
adverb _very_, and the former to that which alone is properly called the
superlative. Churchill does this: while, (as we have seen above,) in naming
the degrees, he pretends to prefer "what has been established by long
custom."--_New Gram._, p. 231. By a strange oversight also, he failed to
notice, that this doctrine interferes with his scheme of _five_ degrees,
and would clearly furnish him with _six_: to which if he had chosen to add
the "_imperfect degree_" of Dr. Webster, (as _whitish, greenish, &c._,)
which is recognized by Johnson, Murray, and others, he might have had
_seven_. But I hope my readers will by-and-by believe there is _no need_ of
more than _three_.

OBS. 9.--The true nature of the Comparative degree is this: it denotes
either some _excess_ or some _relative deficiency_ of the quality, when one
thing or party is compared with an other, in respect to what is in both:
as, "Because the foolishness of God is _wiser_ than men; and the weakness
of God is _stronger_ than men."--_1 Cor._, i, 25. "Few languages are, in
fact, _more copious_ than the English."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 87. "Our style
is _less compact_ than that of the ancients."--_Ib._, p. 88. "They are
counted to him _less_ than nothing and vanity."--_Isaiah_, xl, 17. As the
comparatives in a long _series_ are necessarily many, and some of them
_higher_ than others, it may be asked, "How can the comparative degree, in
this case, be merely 'that which exceeds the positive?'" Or, as our common
grammarians prompt me here to say, "May not the comparative degree increase
or lessen _the comparative_, in signification?" The latter form of the
question they may answer for themselves; remembering that the comparative
_may advance from the comparative_, step by step, from the second article
in the series to the utmost. Thus, three is a higher or greater number than
two; but four is higher than three; five, than four; and so on, _ad
infinitum_. My own form of the question I answer thus: "The _highest_ of
the _higher_ is not _higher_ than the rest are _higher_, but simply
_higher_ than they are _high_."

OBS. 10.--The true nature of the Superlative degree is this: it denotes, in
a quality, _some extreme_ or _unsurpassed extent_. It may be used either
absolutely, as being without bounds; or relatively, as being confined
within any limits we choose to give it. It is equally applicable to that
which is naturally unsurpassable, and to that which stands within the
narrowest limits of comparison. The _heaviest_ of _three feathers_ would
scarcely be thought a _heavy_ thing, and yet the expression is proper;
because the weight, whatever it is, is relatively _the greatest_. The
_youngest_ of three persons, may not be _very young_; nor need we suppose
the _oldest_ in a whole college to have arrived at _the greatest
conceivable age_. What then shall be thought of the explanations which our
grammarians have given of this degree of comparison? That of Murray I have
already criticised. It is ascribed to him, not upon the supposition that he
invented it; but because common sense continues to give place to the
authority of his name in support of it. Comly, Russell, Alger, Ingersoll,
Greenleaf, Fisk, Merchant, Kirkham, T. Smith, R. C. Smith, Hall, Hiley, and
many others, have copied it into their grammars, as being better than any
definition they could devise. Murray himself unquestionably took it from
some obscure pedagogue among the old grammarians. Buchanan, who long
preceded him, has nearly the same words: "The Superlative increases or
diminishes the Positive in Signification, to the highest or [the] lowest
Degree of all."--_English Syntax_, p. 28. If this is to be taken for a
grammatical definition, what definition shall grammar itself bear?

OBS. 11.--Let us see whether our later authors have done better. "The
_superlative_ expresses a quality in the greatest or [the] least _possible_
degree; as, _wisest, coldest, least wise_."--_Webster's Old Gram._, p. 13.
In his later speculations, this author conceives that the termination _ish_
forms the _first_ degree of comparison; as, "Imperfect, _dankish_," Pos.
_dank_, Comp. _danker_, Superl. _dankest_. "There are therefore _four_
degrees of comparison."--_Webster's Philosophical Gram._ p. 65. "The
_fourth_ denotes the utmost or [the] least degree of a quality; as,
_bravest, wisest, poorest, smallest_. This is called the _superlative_
degree."--_Ib._; also his _Improved Gram._, 1831, p. 47. "This degree is
called the Superlative degree, from its raising the amount of the quality
above that of all others."--_Webber's Gram._, 1832, p. 26. It is not easy
to quote, from any source, a worse sentence than this; if, indeed, so
strange a jumble of words can be called a sentence. "_From its raising the
amount_," is in itself a vicious and untranslatable phrase, here put for
"_because it raises the amount_;" and who can conceive of the superlative
degree, as "_raising the amount of the quality_ above that of _all other
qualities_?" Or, if it be supposed to mean, "above the amount of all other
_degrees_," what is this amount? Is it that of one and one, the _positive_
and the _comparative_ added numerically? or is it the sum of all the
quantities which these may indicate? Perhaps the author meant, "above the
amount of all other _amounts_." If none of these absurdities is here
taught, nothing is taught, and the words are nonsense. Again: "The
_superlative degree_ increases or diminishes the positive to the highest or
[the] lowest degree _of which it is susceptible_."--_Bucke's Classical
Gram._, p. 49. "The superlative degree is generally formed by adding _st_
or _est_ to the positive; and denotes _the greatest excess_."--_Nutting's
Gram._, p. 33. "The Superlative increases or diminishes the Signification
of the Positive or Adjective, to a _very high_ or a _very low_
Degree."--_British Gram._, p. 97. What _excess_ of skill, or what _very
high degree_ of acuteness, have the _brightest_ and _best_ of these
grammarians exhibited? There must be some, if their definitions are _true_.

OBS. 12.--The common assertion of the grammarians, that the superlative
degree is not applicable to two _objects_,[177] is not only unsupported by
any reason in the nature of things, but it is contradicted in practice by
almost every man who affirms it. Thus Maunder: "When only two persons or
things are spoken of comparatively, to use the superlative is improper: as,
'Deborah, my dear, give those two boys a lump of sugar each; and let Dick's
be the largest, because he spoke first.' This," says the critic, "should
have been 'larger.'"--_Maunder's Gram._, p. 4. It is true, the comparative
_might_ here have been used; but the superlative is clearer, and more
agreeable to custom. And how can "_largest_" be wrong, if "_first_" is
right? "Let Dick's be the _larger_, because he spoke _sooner_," borders too
much upon a different idea, that of _proportion_; as when we say, "_The
sooner the better_,"--"_The more the merrier_." So Blair: "When only two
things are compared, the comparative degree should be used, and not the
superlative."--_Practical Gram._, p. 81. "A Trochee has the _first_
syllable accented, and the _last_ unaccented."--_Ib._, p. 118. "An Iambus
has the first syllable unaccented, and the _last_ accented."--_Ibid._ These
two examples are found also in _Jamieson's Rhetoric_, p. 305; _Murray's
Gram._, p. 253; _Kirkham's_, 219; _Bullions's_, 169; _Guy's_, 120;
_Merchant's_, 166. So Hiley: "When _two_ persons or things are compared,
the _comparative_ degree must be employed. When _three or more_ persons or
things are compared, the _superlative_ must be used."--_Treatise on English
Gram._, p. 78. Contradiction in practice: "Thomas is _wiser_ than his
brothers."--_Ib._, p. 79. Are not "_three or more persons_" here compared
by "the comparative" _wiser_? "In an _Iambus_ the _first_ syllable is
unaccented."--_Ib._, p. 123. An iambus has but _two_ syllables; and this
author expressly teaches that "_first_" is "superlative."--_Ib._, p. 21. So
Sanborn: "The _positive_ degree denotes the _simple_ form of an adjective
_without_ any variation of meaning. The _comparative_ degree increases or
lessens the meaning _of the positive_, and denotes a comparison _between
two_ persons or things. The _superlative_ degree increases or lessens the
positive _to the greatest extent_, and denotes a comparison _between more
than two_ persons or things."--_Analytical Gram._, p. 30 and p. 86. These
pretended definitions of the degrees of comparison embrace not only the
absurdities which I have already censured in those of our common grammars,
but several new ones peculiar to this author. Of the inconsistency of his
doctrine and practice, take the following examples: "Which of two bodies,
that move with the same velocity, will exercise the _greatest_
power?"--_Ib._, p. 93; and again, p. 203, "'I was offered a _dollar_;'--'A
_dollar_ was offered (to) _me_.' The _first_ form should always be
avoided."--_Ib._, p. 127. "Nouns in apposition generally annex the sign of
the possessive case to the _last_; as, 'For David my _servant's_
sake.'--'John the _Baptist's_ head.' _Bible_."--_Ib._, p. 197.

OBS. 13.--So Murray: "We commonly say, 'This is the _weaker of the two_;'
or, 'The _weakest_ of the two;'[178] but the former is the regular mode of
expression, because there are _only two_ things compared."--_Octavo Gram._,
i, 167. What then of the following example: "Which of _those two persons_
has _most_ distinguished himself?"--_Ib., Key_, ii, 187. Again, in treating
of the adjectives _this_ and _that_, the same hand writes thus: "_This_
refers to the _nearest_ person or thing, and _that_ to the _most distant_:
as, '_This_ man is _more intelligent_ than _that_.' _This_ indicates the
_latter_, or _last_ mentioned; _that_, the _former_, or _first_ mentioned:
as, 'Both wealth and poverty are temptations; _that_ tends to excite pride,
_this_, discontent.'"--_Murray's Gram._, i, 56. In the former part of this
example, the superlative is twice applied where only two things are spoken
of; and, in the latter, it is twice made equivalent to the comparative,
with a like reference. The following example shows the same equivalence:
"_This_ refers to the _last_ mentioned or _nearer_ thing, _that_ to the
_first_ mentioned or _more_ distant thing."--_Webber's Gram._, p. 31. So
Churchill: "The superlative should not be used, when only two persons or
things are compared."--_New Gram._, p. 80. "In the _first_ of these two
sentences."--_Ib._, p. 162; _Lowth_, p. 120. According to the rule, it
should have been, "In the _former_ of these two sentences;" but this would
be here ambiguous, because _former_ might mean _maker_. "When our
sentence consists of two members, the _longest_ should, generally, be the
concluding one."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 117: and _Jamieson's_, p. 99. "The
_shortest_ member being placed _first_, we carry it _more readily_ in our
memory as we proceed to the second."--_Ib._, & _Ib._ "Pray consider us, in
this respect, as the _weakest_ sex."--_Spect._, No. 533. In this last
sentence, the comparative, _weaker_, would perhaps have been better;
because, not an absolute, but merely a comparative weakness is meant. So
Latham and Child: "It is better, in speaking of only two objects, to use
the comparative degree rather than the superlative, even, where we use the
article _the_. _This is the better of the two_, is preferable to _this is
the best of the two_."--_Elementary Gram._, p. 155. Such is their rule; but
very soon they forget it, and write thus: "In this case the relative refers
to the _last_ of the two."--_Ib._, p. 163.

OBS. 14.--Hyperboles are very commonly expressed by comparatives or
superlatives; as, "My _little finger_ shall be _thicker_ than my _father's
loins_."--_1 Kings_, xii, 10. "Unto me, who am _less than the least_ of all
saints, is this grace given."--_Ephesians_, iii, 8. Sometimes, in thus
heightening or lowering the object of his conception, the writer falls into
a catachresis, solecism, or abuse of the grammatical degrees; as,
"Mustard-seed--which is _less than all the seeds_ that be in the
earth."--_Mark_, iv, 31. This expression is objectionable, because
mustard-seed is a seed, and cannot be less than itself; though that which
is here spoken of, may perhaps have been "_the least of all seeds_:" and it
is the same Greek phrase, that is thus rendered in Matt, xiii, 32. Murray
has inserted in his Exercises, among "unintelligible and inconsistent words
and phrases," the following example from Milton:

"And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide."--_Exercises_, p. 122.

For this supposed inconsistency, ho proposes in his Key the following

"And, in the _lower_ deep, _another_ deep
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide."--_Key_, p. 254.

But, in an other part of his book, he copies from Dr. Blair the same
passage, with commendation: saying, "The following sentiments of _Satan in
Milton_, as strongly as they are described, _contain nothing_ but what is
_natural and proper_:

'Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And in the lowest _depth_, a lower deep,
Still threat'ning to devour me, opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.' _P. Lost_, B. iv, l. 73."
_Blair's Lectures_, p. 153; _Murray's Grammar_, p. 352.

OBS. 15.--Milton's word, in the fourth line above, is _deep_, and not
_depth_, as these authors here give it: nor was it very polite in them, to
use a phraseology which comes so near to saying, the devil was in the poet.
Alas for grammar! accuracy in its teachers has become the most rare of all
qualifications. As for Murray's correction above, I see not how it can
please any one who chooses to think Hell a place of great depth. A descent
into his "_lower_ deep" and "_other_ deep," might be a plunge less horrible
than two or three successive slides in one of our western caverns! But
Milton supposes the arch-fiend might descend to the lowest _imaginable_
depth of Hell, and there be liable to a still further fall of more
tremendous extent. Fall whither? Into the horrid and inconceivable
profundity of the _bottomless pit_! What signifies it, to object to his
language as "_unintelligible_" if it conveys his idea better than any other
could? In no human conception of what is infinite, can there be any real
exaggeration. To amplify beyond the truth, is here impossible. Nor is there
any superlation which can fix a limit to the idea of more and more in
infinitude. Whatever literal absurdity there may be in it, the duplication
seems greatly to augment what was even our greatest conception of the
thing. Homer, with a like figure, though expressed in the positive degree,
makes Jupiter threaten any rebel god, that he shall be thrown down from
Olympus, to suffer the burning pains of the Tartarean gulf; not in the
centre, but,

"As _deep_ beneath th' infernal centre hurl'd,
As from that centre to th' ethereal world."
--_Pope's Iliad_, B. viii, l. 19.


Adjectives are regularly compared, when the comparative degree is expressed
by adding _er_, and the superlative, by adding _est_ to them: as, Pos.,
_great_, Comp., _greater_, Superl., _greatest_; Pos., _mild_, Comp.,
_milder_, Superl., _mildest_.

In the variation of adjectives, final consonants are doubled, final _e_ is
omitted, and final _y_ is changed to _i_, agreeably to the rules for
spelling: as, _hot, hotter, hottest; wide, wider, widest; happy, happier,

The regular method of comparison belongs almost exclusively to
monosyllables, with dissyllables ending in _w_ or _y_, and such others as
receive it and still have but one syllable after the accent: as, _fierce,
fiercer, fiercest; narrow, narrower, narrowest; gloomy, gloomier,
gloomiest; serene, serener, serenest; noble, nobler, noblest; gentle,
gentler, gentlest_.


The two degrees of superiority may also be expressed with precisely the
same import as above, by prefixing to the adjective the adverbs _more_ and
_most_: as, _wise, more wise, most wise; famous, more famous, most famous;
amiable, more amiable, most amiable_.

The degrees of inferiority are expressed, in like manner, by the adverbs
_less_ and _least_: as, _wise, less wise, least wise; famous, less famous,
least famous; amiable, less amiable, least amiable_. The regular method of
comparison has, properly speaking, no degrees of this kind.

Nearly all adjectives that admit of different degrees, may be compared by
means of the adverbs; but, for short words, the regular method is generally
preferable: as, _quick, quicker, quickest_; rather than, _quick, more
quick, most quick_.


OBS. 1.--The genius of our language is particularly averse to the
lengthening of long words by additional syllables; and, in the comparison
of adjectives, _er_ and _est_ always add a syllable to the word, except it
end in _le_ after a mute. Thus, _free, freer, freest_, increases
syllabically; but _ample, ampler, amplest_, does not. Whether any
particular adjective admits of comparison or not, is a matter of reasoning
from the sense of the term; by which method it shall be compared, is in
some degree a matter of taste; though custom has decided that long words
shall not be inflected, and for the shorter, there is generally an obvious
bias in favour of one form rather than the other. Dr. Johnson says, "The
comparison of adjectives is very uncertain; and being much regulated by
commodiousness of utterance, or agreeableness of sound, is not easily
reduced to rules. Monosyllables are commonly compared. Polysyllables, or
words of more than two syllables, are seldom compared otherwise than by
_more_ and _most_. Dissyllables are seldom compared if they terminate in
_full, less, ing, ous, ed, id, at, ent, ain, or ive_."--_Gram. of the
English Tongue_, p. 6. "When the positive contains but one syllable, the
degrees are usually formed by adding _er_ or _est_. When the positive
contains two syllables, it is matter of taste which method you shall use in
forming the degrees. The ear is, in this case, the best guide. But, when
the positive contains more than two syllables, the degrees must be formed
by the use of _more_ and _most_. We may say, _tenderer_ and _tenderest,
pleasanter_ and _pleasantest, prettier_ and _prettiest_; but who could
endure _delicater_ and _delicatest_?"--_Cobbett's E. Gram._, p. 81. _Quiet,
bitter, clever, sober_, and perhaps some others like them, are still
regularly compared; but such words as _secretest, famousest, virtuousest,
powerfullest_, which were used by Milton, have gone out of fashion. The
following, though not very commonly used, are perhaps allowable. "Yet these
are the two _commonest_ occupations of mankind."--_Philological Museum_, i,
431. "Their _pleasantest_ walks throughout life must be guarded by armed
men."--_Ib._, i, 437. "Franklin possessed the rare talent of drawing useful
lessons from the _commonest_ occurrences."--_Murray's Sequel_, p. 323.
"Unbidden guests are often _welcomest_ when they are gone."--SHAK.: _in
Joh. Dict._

"There was a lad, th' _unluckiest_ of his crew,
Was still contriving something bad, but new."--KING: _ib._

OBS. 2.--I make a distinction between the regular comparison by _er_ and
_est_, and the comparison by adverbs; because, in a grammatical point of
view, these two methods are totally different: the meaning, though the
same, being expressed in the one case, by an inflection of the adjective;
and in the other, by a phrase consisting of two different parts of speech.
If the placing of an adverb before an adjective is to be called a
grammatical modification or variation of the latter word, we shall have
many other degrees than those which are enumerated above. The words may
with much more propriety be parsed separately, the degree being ascribed to
the adverb--or, if you please, to both words, for both are varied in sense
by the inflection of the former. The degrees in which qualities may exist
in nature, are infinitely various; but the only degrees with which the
grammarian is concerned, are those which our variation of the adjective or
adverb enables us to express--including, as of course we must, the state or
sense of the primitive word, as one. The reasoning which would make the
positive degree to be no degree, would also make the nominative case, or
the _casus rectus_ of the Latins, to be no case.

OBS. 3.--Whenever the adjective itself denotes these degrees, and is duly
varied in form to express them, they properly belong to it; as, _worthy,
worthier, worthiest_. (Though no apology can be made for the frequent error
of confounding the _degree of a quality_, with the _verbal sign_ which
expresses it.) If an adverb is employed for this purpose, that also is
compared, and the two degrees thus formed or expressed, are properly its
own; as, worthy, _more_ worthy, _most_ worthy. But these same degrees may
be yet otherwise expressed; as, worthy, _in a higher degree_ worthy, _in
the highest degree_ worthy. Here also the adjective _worthy_ is virtually
compared, as before; but only the adjective _high_ is grammatically
modified. Again, we may form three degrees with several adverbs to each,
thus: Pos., _very truly_ worthy; Comp., _much more truly_ worthy; Sup.,
_much the most truly_ worthy. There are also other adverbs, which, though
not varied in themselves like _much, more, most_, may nevertheless have
nearly the same effect upon the adjective; as, worthy, _comparatively_
worthy, _superlatively_ worthy. I make these remarks, because many
grammarians have erroneously parsed the adverbs _more_ and _most, less_ and
_least_, as parts of the adjective.

OBS. 4.--Harris, in his Hermes, or Philosophical Inquiry concerning
Universal Grammar, has very unceremoniously pronounced the doctrine of
three degrees of comparison, to be _absurd_; and the author of the British
Grammar, as he emotes the whole passage without offering any defence of
that doctrine, seems to second the allegation. "Mr. Harris observes, that,
'There cannot well be more than two degrees; one to denote simple excess,
and one to denote superlative. Were we indeed to introduce more degrees, we
ought perhaps to introduce infinite, which is absurd. For why stop at a
limited number, when in all subjects, susceptible of intension, the
intermediate excesses are in a manner infinite? There are infinite degrees
of _more white_ between the first simple _white_ and the superlative
_whitest_; the same may be said of _more great, more strong, more minute_,
&c. The doctrine of grammarians about _three_ such degrees, which they call
the Positive, the Comparative, and the Superlative, must needs be absurd;
both because in their Positive there is no comparison at all, and because
their Superlative is a Comparative as much as their Comparative itself.'
_Hermes_, p. 197."--_Brit. Gram._, p. 98. This objection is rashly urged.
No comparison can be imagined without bringing together as many as two
terms, and if the positive is one of these, it is a degree of comparison;
though neither this nor the superlative is, for that reason, "_a
Comparative_." Why we stop at three degrees, I have already shown: we have
three _forms_, and only three.

OBS. 5.--"The termination _ish_ may be accounted in some sort a degree of
comparison, by which the signification is diminished below the positive, as
_black, blackish_, or tending to blackness; _salt, saltish_, or having a
little taste of salt:[179] they therefore admit of no comparison. This
termination is seldom added but to words expressing sensible qualities, nor
often to words of above one syllable, and is scarcely used in the solemn or
sublime style."--_Dr. Johnson's Gram._ "The _first_ [degree] denotes a
slight degree of the quality, and is expressed by the termination _ish_;
as, _reddish, brownish, yellowish_. This may be denominated the _imperfect_
degree of the attribute."--_Dr. Webster's Improved Gram._, p. 47. I doubt
the correctness of the view taken above by Johnson, and dissent entirely
from Webster, about his "_first degree_ of comparison." Of adjectives in
_ish_ we have perhaps a hundred; but nine out of ten of them are derived
clearly from _nouns_, as, _boyish, girlish_; and who can prove that
_blackish, saltish, reddish, brownish_, and _yellowish_, are not also from
the _nouns, black, salt, red, brown_, and _yellow_? or that "a _more
reddish_ tinge,"--"a _more saltish_ taste," are not correct phrases? There
is, I am persuaded, no good reason for noticing this termination as
constituting a degree of comparison. All "double comparisons" are said to
be ungrammatical; but, if _ish_ forms a degree, it is such a degree as may
be compared again: as,

"And seem _more learnedish_ than those
That at a greater charge compose."--_Butler_.

OBS. 6.--Among the degrees of comparison, some have enumerated that of
_equality_; as when we say, "It is _as sweet as_ honey." Here is indeed a
comparison, but it is altogether in the _positive_ degree, and needs no
other name. This again refutes Harris; who says, that in the positive there
is no comparison at all. But further: it is plain, that in this degree
there may be comparisons of _inequality_ also; as, "Molasses is _not so
sweet_ as honey."--"Civility is _not so slight_ a matter as it is commonly
thought."--_Art of Thinking_, p. 92. Nay, such comparisons may equal any
superlative. Thus it is said, I think, in the Life of Robert Hall:
"Probably no human being ever before suffered _so much_ bodily pain." What
a preeminence is here! and yet the form of the adjective is only that of
the positive degree. "Nothing _so uncertain_ as general reputation."--_Art
of Thinking_, p. 50. "Nothing _so nauseous_ as undistinguishing
civility."--_Ib._, p. 88. These, likewise, would be strong expressions, if
they were correct English. But, to my apprehension, every such comparison
of equality involves a solecism, when, as it here happens, the former term
includes the latter. The word _nothing_ is a general negative, and
_reputation_ is a particular affirmative. The comparison of equality
between them, is therefore certainly improper: because _nothing_ cannot be
equal to _something_; and, reputation being something, and of course equal
to itself, the proposition is evidently untrue. It ought to be, "Nothing
_is more uncertain than_ general reputation." This is the same as to say,
"General reputation is _as uncertain as any thing_ that can be named." Or
else the former term should exempt the latter; as. "_Nothing else_"--or,
"No _other_ thing, is _so uncertain_ as" _this popular honour, public
esteem_, or "_general reputation_." And so of all similar examples.

OBS. 7.--In all comparisons, care must be taken to adapt the terms to the
degree which is expressed by the adjective or adverb. The superlative
degree requires that the object to which it relates, be one of those with
which it is compared; as, "_Eve_ was _the fairest_ of women." The
comparative degree, on the contrary, requires that the object spoken of be
not included among those with which it is compared; as, "_Eve_ was _fairer_
than any of _her daughters_." To take the inclusive term here, and say,
"_Eve_ was _fairer_ than any _woman_," would be no less absurd, than
Milton's assertion, that "Eve was _the fairest_ of _her daughters_:" the
former supposes that she was _not a woman_; the latter, that she was _one
of her own daughters_. But Milton's solecism is double; he makes Adam _one
of his own sons_:--

"Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve."--_P. Lost_, B. iv, l. 324.

OBS. 8.--"Such adjectives," says Churchill, "as have in themselves a
superlative signification, or express qualities not susceptible of degrees,
do not properly admit either the comparative or [the] superlative form.
Under this rule may be included _all adjectives with a negative
prefix_."--_New Gram._, p. 80. Again: "As _immediate_ signifies instant,
present with regard to time, Prior should not have written '_more_
immediate.' _Dr. Johnson_."--_Ib._, p. 233. "Hooker has _unaptest_; Locke,
_more uncorrupted_; Holder, _more undeceivable_: for these the proper
expressions would have been the opposite signs without the negation: _least
apt, less corrupted, less deceivable_. Watts speaks of 'a _most unpassable_
barrier.' If he had simply said 'an unpassable barrier,' we should have
understood it at once in the strongest sense, as a barrier impossible to be
surmounted: but, by attempting to express something more, he gives an idea
of something less; we perceive, that his _unpassable_ means _difficult to
pass_. This is the mischief of the propensity to exaggeration; which,
striving after strength, sinks into weakness."--_Ib._, p. 234.

OBS. 9.--The foregoing remarks from Churchill appear _in general_ to have
been dictated by good sense; but, if his own practice is right, there must
be some exceptions to his rule respecting the comparison of adjectives with
a negative prefix; for, in the phrase "_less imprudent_," which, according
to a passage quoted before, he will have to be different from "_more
prudent_," he himself furnishes an example of such comparison. In fact,
very many words of that class are compared by good writers: as, "Nothing is
_more unnecessary_."--_Lowth's Gram., Pref._, p. v. "What is yet _more
unaccountable_."--ROGERS: _in Joh. Dict._ "It is hard to determine which is
_most uneligible_."--_Id., ib._ "Where it appears the _most unbecoming_ and
_unnatural_."--ADDISON: _ib._ "Men of the best sense and of the _most
unblemished_ lives."--_Id., ib._ "March and September are the _most
unsettled_ and _unequable_ of seasons."--BENTLEY: _ib._ "Barcelona was
taken by a _most unexpected_ accident."--SWIFT: _ib._ "The _most barren_
and _unpleasant_."--WOODWARD: _ib._ "O good, but _most unwise_
patricians!"--SHAK.: _ib._ "_More unconstant_ than the wind."--_Id., ib._
"We may say _more_ or _less imperfect_."--_Murray's Gram._, p. 168. "Some
of those [passions] which act with the _most irresistible_ energy upon the
hearts of mankind, are altogether omitted in the catalogue of
Aristotle."--_Adams's Rhet._, i, 380. "The wrong of him who presumes to
talk of owning me, is _too unmeasured_ to be softened by
kindness."--_Channing, on Emancipation_, p. 52. "Which, we are sensible,
are _more inconclusive_ than the rest."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 319.

"Ere yet the salt of _most unrighteous_ tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes."--_Shak._

OBS. 10.--Comparison must not be considered a general property of
adjectives. It belongs chiefly to the class which I call common adjectives,
and is by no means applicable to all of these. _Common adjectives_, or
epithets denoting quality, are perhaps more numerous than all the other
classes put together. Many of these, and a few that are pronominal, may be
varied by comparison; and some _participial_ adjectives may be compared by
means of the adverbs. But adjectives formed from _proper names_, all the
numerals, and most of the compounds, are in no way susceptible of
comparison. All nouns used adjectively, as an _iron_ bar, an _evening_
school, a _mahogany_ chair, a _South-Sea_ dream, are also incapable of
comparison. In the title of "His _Most Christian_ Majesty," the superlative
adverb is applied to a _proper adjective_; but who will pretend that we
ought to understand by it "_the highest degree_" of Christian attainment?
It might seem uncourtly to suggest that this is "an abuse of the king's
English," I shall therefore say no such thing. Pope compares the word
Christian, in the following couplet:--

"Go, purified by flames ascend the sky,
My better and _more Christian_ progeny."--_Dunciad_, B. i, l. 227.


The following adjectives are compared irregularly: _good, better, best;
bad, evil_, or _ill, worse, worst; little, less, least; much, more, most;
many, more, most_.


OBS. 1.--In _English_, and also in _Latin_, most adjectives that denote
_place_ or _situation_, not only form the superlative irregularly, but are
also either defective or redundant in comparison. Thus:

I. The following nine have more than one superlative: _far, farther,
farthest, farmost_, or _farthermost; near, nearer, nearest_ or _next; fore,
former, foremost_ or _first; hind, hinder, hindmost_ or _hindermost; in,
inner, inmost_ or _innermost; out, outer_, or _utter, outmost_ or _utmost,
outermost_ or _uttermost; up, upper, upmost_ or _uppermost; low, lower,
lowest_ or _lowermost; late, later_ or _latter, latest_ or _last_.

II. The following five want the positive: [_aft_, adv.,] _after, aftmost_
or _aftermost_; [_forth_, adv., formerly _furth_,[180]] _further, furthest_
or _furthermost; hither, hithermost; nether, nethermost; under, undermost_.

III. The following want the comparative: _front, frontmost; rear, rearmost;
head, headmost; end, endmost; top, topmost; bottom, bottommost; mid_ or
_middle, midst,[181] midmost_ or _middlemost; north, northmost; south,
southmost; east, eastmost; west, westmost; northern, northernmost;
southern, southernmost; eastern, easternmost; western, westernmost_.

OBS. 2.--Many of these irregular words are not always used as adjectives,
but oftener as nouns, adverbs, or prepositions. The sense in which they are
employed, will show to what class they belong. The terms _fore_ and _hind,
front_ and _rear, right_ and _left, in_ and _out, high_ and _low, top_ and
_bottom, up_ and _down, upper_ and _under, mid_ and _after_, all but the
last pair, are in direct contrast with each other. Many of them are often
joined in composition with other words; and some, when used as adjectives
of place, are rarely separated from their nouns: as, _in_land, _out_house,
_mid_-sea, _after_-ages. Practice is here so capricious, I find it
difficult to determine whether the compounding of these terms is proper or
not. It is a case about which he that inquires most, may perhaps be most in
doubt. If the joining of the words prevents the possibility of mistaking
the adjective for a preposition, it prevents also the separate
classification of the adjective and the noun, and thus in some sense
destroys the former by making the whole a noun. Dr. Webster writes thus:
"FRONTROOM, _n._ A room or apartment in the _forepart_ of a house.
BACKROOM, _n._ A room behind the _front room_, or in the _back part_ of the
house."--_Octavo Dict._ So of many phrases by which people tell of turning
things, or changing the position of their parts; as, _in_side out,
_out_side _in; up_side _down, down_side _up_; _wrong_ end _foremost,
but_-end _foremost_; _fore_-part _back, fore_-end _aft_; _hind_ side
_before, back_side _before_. Here all these contrasted particles seem to be
adjectives of place or situation. What grammarians in general would choose
to call them, it is hard to say; probably, many would satisfy themselves
with calling the whole "_an adverbial phrase_,"--the common way of
disposing of every thing which it is difficult to analyze. These, and the
following examples from Scott, are a fair specimen of the uncertainty of
present usage:

"The herds without a keeper strayed,
The plough was in _mid-furrow_ staid."--_Lady of the Lake_.

"The eager huntsman knew his bound,
And in _mid chase_ called off his hound."--_Ibidem_.

OBS. 3.--For the chief points of the compass, we have so many adjectives,
and so many modes of varying or comparing them, that it is difficult to
tell their number, or to know which to choose in practice. (1.) _North,
south, east_, and _west_, are familiarly used both as nouns and as
adjectives. From these it seems not improper to form superlatives, as
above, by adding _most_; as, "From Aroar to Nebo, and the wild of
_southmost_ Abarim."--_Milton_. "There are no rivulets or springs in the
island of Feror, the _westmost_ of the Canaries."--_White's Nat. Hist._
(2.) These primitive terms may also be compared, in all three of the
degrees, by the adverbs _farther_ and _farthest_, or _further_ and
_furthest_; as, "Which is yet _farther west_."--_Bacon_. (3.) Though we
never employ as separate words the comparatives _norther, souther, easter,
wester_, we have _northerly, southerly, easterly_, and _westerly_, which
seem to have been formed from such comparatives, by adding _ly_; and these
four may be compared by the adverbs _more_ and _most_, or _less_ and
_least_: as, "These hills give us a view of the _most easterly, southerly_,
and _westerly_ parts of England."--GRAUNT: _in Joh. Dict._ (4.) From these
supposed comparatives likewise, some authors form the superlatives
_northermost, southermost, eastermost_, and _westermost_; as, "From the
_westermost_ part of Oyster bay."--_Dr. Webster's Hist. U. S._, p. 126.
"And three miles southward of the _southermost_ part of said
bay."--_Trumbull's Hist. of Amer._, Vol. i, p. 88. "Pockanocket was on the
_westermost_ line of Plymouth Colony."--_Ib._, p. 44. "As far as the
_northermost_ branch of the said bay or river."--_Ib._, p. 127. The
propriety of these is at least questionable; and, as they are neither very
necessary to the language, nor recognized by any of our lexicographers, I
forbear to approve them. (5.) From the four primitives we have also a third
series of positives, ending in _ern_; as, _northern, southern, eastern,
western_. These, though they have no comparatives of their own, not only
form superlatives by assuming the termination _most_, but are sometimes
compared, perhaps in both degrees, by a separate use of the adverbs: as,
"_Southernmost, a_. Furthest towards the south."--_Webster's Dict._ "Until
it shall intersect the _northernmost_ part of the thirty-first degree of
north latitude."--_Articles of Peace_. "To the _north-westernmost_ head of
Connecticut river."--_Ib._ "Thence through the said lake to the _most
north-western_ point thereof."--_Ib._

OBS. 4.--It may be remarked of the comparatives _former_ and _latter_ or
_hinder, upper_ and _under_ or _nether, inner_ and _outer_ or _utter,
after_ and _hither_; as well as of the Latin _superior_ and _inferior,
anterior_ and _posterior, interior_ and _exterior, prior_ and _ulterior,
senior_ and _junior, major_ and _minor_; that they cannot, like other
comparatives, be construed with the conjunction _than_. After all genuine
English comparatives, this conjunction may occur, because it is the only
fit word for introducing the latter term of comparison; but we never say
one thing is _former_ or _latter, superior_ or _inferior, than_ an other.
And so of all the rest here named. Again, no real comparative or
superlative can ever need an other superadded to it; but _inferior_ and
_superior_ convey ideas that do not always preclude the additional
conception of _more_ or _less_: as, "With respect to high and low notes,
pronunciation is still _more inferior_ to singing."--_Kames, Elements of
Criticism_, Vol. ii, p. 73. "The mistakes which the _most superior_
understanding is apt to fall into."--_West's Letters to a Young Lady_, p.

OBS. 5.--Double comparatives and double superlatives, being in general
awkward and unfashionable, as well as tautological, ought to be avoided.
Examples: "The Duke of Milan, and his _more braver_ daughter, could control
thee."--_Shak., Tempest_. Say, "his _more gallant_ daughter." "What in me
was purchased, falls upon thee in a _more fairer_ sort."--_Id., Henry IV_.
Say, "_fairer_," or, "_more honest_;" for "_purchased_" here means
_stolen_. "Changed to a _worser_ shape thou canst not be."--_Id., Hen. VI_.
Say, "a _worse_ shape"--or, "an _uglier_ shape." "After the _most
straitest_ sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee."--_Acts_, xxvi, 5.
Say, "the _strictest_ sect." "Some say he's mad; others, that _lesser_ hate
him, do call it valiant fury."--_Shak_. Say, "others, that hate him
_less_." In this last example, _lesser_ is used adverbially; in which
construction it is certainly incorrect. But against _lesser_ as an
adjective, some grammarians have spoken with more severity, than comports
with a proper respect for authority. Dr. Johnson says, "LESSER, _adj_. A
barbarous corruption of _less_, formed by the vulgar from the habit of
terminating comparatives in _er; afterward adopted by poets, and then by
writers of prose, till it has all the authority which a mode originally
erroneous can derive from custom_."--_Quarto Dict._ With no great fairness,
Churchill quotes this passage as far as the semicolon, and there stops. The
position thus taken, he further endeavours to strengthen, by saying,
"_Worser_, though _not more barbarous_, offends the ear in a much greater
degree, because it has not been so frequently used."--_New Gram._, p. 232.
Example: "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day,
and the _lesser_ light to rule the night."--_Gen._, i, 16. Kirkham, after
making an _imitation_ of this passage, remarks upon it: "_Lesser_ is _as
incorrect_ as _badder, gooder, worser_."--_Gram._, p. 77. The judgement of
any critic who is ignorant enough to say this, is worthy only of contempt.
_Lesser_ is still frequently used by the most tasteful authors, both in
verse and prose: as, "It is the glowing style of a man who is negligent of
_lesser_ graces."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 189.

"Athos, Olympus, AEtna, Atlas, made
These hills seem things of _lesser_ dignity."--_Byron_.

OBS. 6.--The adjective _little_ is used in different senses; for it
contrasts sometimes with _great_, and sometimes with _much_. _Lesser_
appears to refer only to size. Hence _less_ and _lesser_ are not always
equivalent terms. _Lesser_ means _smaller_, and contrasts only with
_greater_. _Less_ contrasts sometimes with _greater_, but oftener with
_more_, the comparative of _much_; for, though it may mean _not so large_,
its most common meaning is _not so much_. It ought to be observed,
likewise, that _less_ is not an adjective of _number_,[182] though not
unfrequently used as such. It does not mean _fewer_, and is therefore not
properly employed in sentences like the following: "In all verbs, there are
no _less_ than three things implied at once."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 81.
"_Smaller_ things than three," is nonsense; and so, in reality, is what the
Doctor here says. _Less_ is not the proper opposite to _more_, when _more_
is the comparative of _many: few, fewer, fewest_, are the only words which
contrast regularly with _many, more, most_. In the following text, these
comparatives are rightly employed: "And to the _more_ ye shall give the
_more_ inheritance, and to the _fewer_ ye shall give the _less_
inheritance."--_Numbers_, xxxiii, 54. But if writers will continue to use
_less_ for _fewer_, so that "_less cattle_," for instance, may mean "_fewer
cattle_;" we shall be under a sort of _necessity_ to retain _lesser_, in
order to speak intelligibly: as, "It shall be for the sending-forth of
oxen, and for the treading of _lesser_ cattle."--_Isaiah_, vii, 25. I have
no partiality for the word _lesser_, neither will I make myself ridiculous
by flouting at its rudeness. "This word," says Webster, "is a corruption,
but [it is] too well established to be discarded. Authors always write the
_Lesser_ Asia."--_Octavo Dict._ "By the same reason, may a man punish the
_lesser_ breaches of that law."--_Locke_. "When we speak of the _lesser_
differences among the tastes of men."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 20. "In greater
or _lesser_ degrees of complexity."--_Burke, on Sublime_, p. 94. "The
greater ought not to succumb to the _lesser_."--_Dillwyn's Reflections_, p.
128. "To such productions, _lesser_ composers must resort for
ideas."--_Gardiner's Music of Nature_, p. 413.

"The larger here, and there the _lesser_ lambs,
The new-fall'n young herd bleating for their dams."--_Pope_.

OBS. 7.--Our grammarians deny the comparison of many adjectives, from a
false notion that they are already superlatives. Thus W. Allen: "Adjectives
compounded with the Latin preposition _per_, are already superlative: as,
_perfect, perennial, permanent_, &c."--_Elements of E. Gram._, p. 52. In
reply to this, I would say, that nothing is really superlative, in English,
but what has the form and construction of the superlative; as, "The _most
permanent_ of all dyes." No word beginning with _per_, is superlative by
virtue of this Latin prefix. "Separate spirits, which are beings that have
_perfecter_ knowledge and greater happiness than we, must needs have also a
_perfecter_ way of communicating their thoughts than we have."--_Locke's
Essay_, B. ii, Ch. 24, Sec.36, This mode of comparison is not now good, but it
shows that _perfect_ is no superlative. Thus Kirkham: "The _following_
adjectives, and _many others_, are _always in the superlative degree_;
because, by expressing a quality _in the highest degree_, they carry in
themselves a superlative signification: _chief, extreme, perfect, right,
wrong, honest, just, true, correct, sincere, vast, immense, ceaseless,
infinite, endless, unparalleled, universal, supreme, unlimited, omnipotent,
all-wise, eternal_." [183]--_Gram._, p. 73. So the Rev. David Blair: "The
words _perfect, certain, infinite, universal, chief, supreme, right, true,
extreme, superior_, and some others, which express a perfect and
superlative sense in themselves, do not admit of comparison."--_English
Gram._, p. 81. Now, according to Murray's definition, which Kirkham adopts,
none of these words can be at all in the superlative degree. On the
contrary, there are several among them, from which true superlatives are
frequently and correctly formed. Where are the positives which are here
supposed to be "_increased to the highest degree_?" Every real superlative
in our language, except _best_ and _worst, most_ and _least, first_ and
_last_, with the still more irregular word _next_, is a derivative, formed
from some other English word, by adding _est_ or _most_; as, _truest,
hindmost_. The propriety or impropriety of comparing the foregoing words,
or any of the "_many others_" of which this author speaks, is to be
determined according to their meaning, and according to the usage of good
writers, and not by the dictation of a feeble pedant, or upon the
supposition that if compared they would form "_double superlatives_."

OBS. 8.--_Chief_ is from the French word _chef_, the _head: chiefest_ is
therefore no more a double superlative than _headmost_: "But when the
_headmost_ foes appeared."--_Scott_. Nor are _chief_ and _chiefest_
equivalent terms: "Doeg an Edomite, the _chiefest_ of the herdsmen."--_1
Samuel_, xxi, 7. "The _chief_ of the herdsmen," would convey a different
meaning; it would be either the _leader_ of the herdsmen, or the _principal
part_ of them. _Chiefest_, however, has often been used where _chief_ would
have been better; as, "He sometimes denied admission to the _chiefest_
officers of the army."--_Clarendon_, let us look further at Kirkham's list
of _absolute_ "_superlatives_."

OBS. 9.--_Extreme_ is from the Latin superlative _extremus_, and of course
its literal signification is not really susceptible of increase. Yet
_extremest_ has been used, and is still used, by some of the very best
writers; as, "They thought it the _extremest_ of evils."--_Bacon_. "That on
the sea's _extremest_ border stood."--_Addison_. "How, to _extremest_
thrill of agony."--_Pollok_, B. viii, l. 270. "I go th' _extremest_ remedy
to prove."--_Dryden_. "In _extremest_ poverty."--_Swift_. "The hairy fool
stood on th' _extremest_ verge of the swift brook, augmenting it with
tears."--_Shak_. "While the _extremest_ parts of the earth were meditating
submission."--_Atterbury_. "His writings are poetical to the _extremest_
boundaries of poetry."--_Adams's Rhetoric_, i, 87. In prose, this
superlative is not now very common; but the poets still occasionally use
it, for the sake of their measure; and it ought to be noticed that the
simple adjective is _not partitive_. If we say, for the first example, "the
_extreme_ of evils;" we make the word a _noun_, and do not convey exactly
the same idea that is there expressed.

OBS. 10.--_Perfect_, if taken in its
strictest sense, must not be compared; but this word, like many others
which mean most in the positive, is often used with a certain latitude of
meaning, which renders its comparison by the adverbs not altogether
inadmissible; nor is it destitute of authority, as I have already shown.
(See Obs. 8th, p. 280.) "From the first rough sketches, to the _more
perfect_ draughts."--_Bolingbroke, on Hist._, p. 152. "The _most
perfect_."--_Adams's Lect. on Rhet._, i, 99 and 136; ii, 17 and 57:
_Blair's Lect._, pp. 20 and 399. "The most _beautiful and perfect_ example
of analysis."--_Lowth's Gram., Pref._, p. 10. "The plainest, _most
perfect_, and most useful manual."--_Bullions's E. Gram., Rev._, p. 7. "Our
sight is the _most perfect_, and the most delightful, of all our
senses."--_Addison, Spect._, No. 411; _Blair's Lect._, pp. 115 and 194;
_Murray's Gram._, i, 322. Here Murray anonymously copied Blair. "And to
render natives _more perfect_ in the knowledge of it."--_Campbell's Rhet._,
p. 171; _Murray's Gram._, p. 366. Here Murray copied Campbell, the most
accurate of all his masters. Whom did he copy when he said, "The phrases,
_more perfect_, and _most perfect_, are improper?"--_Octavo Gram._, p. 168.
But if these are wrong, so is the following sentence: "No poet has ever
attained a _greater perfection_ than Horace."--_Blair's Lect._, p. 398. And
also this: "Why are we brought into the world _less perfect_ in respect to
our nature?"--_West's Letters to a Young Lady_, p. 220.

OBS. 11.--_Right_ and _wrong_ are not often compared by good writers;
though we sometimes see such phrases as _more right_ and _more wrong_, and
such words as _rightest_ and _wrongest_: "'Tis always in the _wrongest_
sense."--_Butler_. "A method of attaining the _rightest_ and greatest
happiness."--PRICE: _Priestley's Gram._, p. 78. "It is no _more right_ to
steal apples, than it is to steal money."--_Webster's New Spelling-Book_,
p. 118. There are equivalent expressions which seem preferable; as, _more
proper, more erroneous, most proper, most erroneous_.

OBS. 12.--_Honest, just, true, correct, sincere_, and _vast_, may all be
compared at pleasure. Pope's Essay on Criticism is _more correct_ than any
thing this modest pretender can write; and in it, he may find the
comparative _juster_, the superlatives _justest, truest, sincerest_, and
the phrases, "_So vast_ a throng,"--"_So vast_ is art:" all of which are
contrary to his teaching. "_Unjuster_ dealing is used in buying than in
selling."--_Butler's Poems_, p. 163. "_Iniquissimam_ pacem _justissimo_
bello antefero."--_Cicero_. "I prefer the _unjustest_ peace before the
_justest_ war."--_Walker's English Particles_, p. 68. The poet Cowley used
the word _honestest_; which is not now very common. So Swift: "What
_honester_ folks never durst for their ears."--_The Yahoo's Overthrow_. So
Jucius: "The _honestest_ and ablest men."--_Letter XVIII_. "The sentence
would be _more correct_ in the following form."--_Murray's Gram._, i, p.
223. "Elegance is chiefly gained by studying the _correctest_
writers."--_Holmes's Rhetoric_, p. 27. _Honest_ and _correct_, for the sake
of euphony, require the adverbs; as, _more honest_, "_most
correct_."--_Lowth's Gram., Pref._, p. iv. _Vast, vaster, vastest_, are
words as smooth, as _fast, faster, fastest_; and _more vast_ is certainly
as good English as _more just_: "Shall mortal man be _more just_ than
God?"--_Job_, iv, 17. "Wilt thou condemn him that is _most just_?"--_Ib._,
xxxiv, 17. "More wise, more learn'd, _more just_, more-everything."--_Pope.
Universal_ is often compared by the adverbs, but certainly with no
reenforcement of meaning: as, "One of the _most universal_ precepts, is,
that the orator himself should feel the passion."--_Adams's Rhet._, i, 379.
"Though not _so universal_."--_Ib._, ii, 311. "This experience is general,
though not _so universal_, as the absence of memory in childhood."--_Ib._,
ii, 362. "We can suppose no motive which would _more universally_
operate."--_Dr. Blair's Rhet._, p. 55. "Music is known to have been _more
universally_ studied."--_Ib._, p. 123. "We shall not wonder, that his
grammar has been _so universally_ applauded."--_Walker's Recommendation in
Murray's Gram._, ii, 306. "The pronoun _it_ is the _most universal_ of all
the pronouns."--_Cutler's Gram._, p. 66. Thus much for one half of this
critic's twenty-two "_superlatives_." The rest are simply adjectives that
are not susceptible of comparison: they are not "superlatives" at all. A
man might just as well teach, that _good_ is a superlative, and not
susceptible of comparison, because "_there is none good but one_."

OBS. 13.--Pronominal adjectives, when their nouns are expressed, simply
relate to them, and have no modifications: except _this_ and _that_, which
form the plurals _these_ and _those_; and _much, many_, and a few others,
which are compared. Examples: "Whence hath _this_ man _this_ wisdom, and
_these_ mighty works?"--_Matt._, xiii, 54. "But _some_ man will say, How
are the dead raised up? and with _what_ body do they come?"--_1 Cor._, xv,
35. "The _first_ man Adam was made a living soul; the _last_ Adam was made
a quickening spirit."--_Ib._, 45. So, when one pronominal adjective
"precedes an other, the former _must be taken_ simply as an adjective;" as,

"Those suns are set. O rise _some other_ such!"
--_Cowper's Task_, B. ii, l. 252.

OBS. 14.--Pronominal adjectives, when their nouns are not expressed, may be
parsed as representing them in _person, number, gender_, and _case_; but
those who prefer it, may supply the ellipsis, and parse the adjective,
_simply as an adjective_. Example: "He threatens _many_, who injures
_one_."--_Kames_. Here it may be said, "_Many_ is a pronominal adjective,
meaning _many persons_; of the third person, plural number, masculine
gender, and objective case." Or those who will take the word simply as an
adjective, may say, "_Many_ is a pronominal adjective, of the positive
degree, compared _many, more, most_, and relating to _persons_ understood."
And so of "_one_," which represents, or relates to, _person_ understood.
Either say, "_One_ is a pronominal adjective, not compared," and give the
_three definitions_ accordingly; or else say, "One is a pronominal
adjective, relating to _person_ understood; of the third person, singular
number, masculine gender, and objective case," and give the _six
definitions_ accordingly.

OBS. 15.--_Elder_ for _older_, and _eldest_ for _oldest_, are still
frequently used; though the ancient positive, _eld_ for _old_, is now
obsolete. Hence some have represented _old_ as having a two-fold
comparison; and have placed it, not very properly, among the irregular
adjectives. The comparatives _elder_ and _better_, are often used as
_nouns_; so are the Latin comparatives _superior_ and _inferior, interior_
and _exterior, senior_ and _junior, major_ and _minor_: as, The _elder's_
advice,--One of the _elders_,--His _betters_,--Our _superiors_,--The
_interior_ of the country,--A handsome _exterior_,--Your _seniors_,--My
_juniors_,--A _major_ in the army,--He is yet a _minor_. The word _other_,
which has something of the nature of a comparative, likewise takes the form
of a noun, as before suggested; and, in that form, the reader, if he will,
may call it a noun: as, "What do ye more than _others_?"--_Bible_. "God in
thus much is bounded, that the evil hath he left unto _an other_; and _that
Dark Other_ hath usurped the evil which Omnipotence laid down."--_Tupper's
Book of Thoughts_, p. 45. Some call it a pronoun. But it seems to be
pronominal, merely by ellipsis of the noun after it; although, unlike a
mere adjective, it assumes the ending of the noun, to mark that ellipsis.
Perhaps therefore, the best explanation of it would be this: "'_Others_ is
a pronominal adjective, having the form of a noun, and put for _other men_;
in the third person, plural number, masculine gender, and nominative case."
The gender of this word varies, according to that of the contrasted term;
and the case, according to the relation it bears to other words. In the
following example, it is neuter and objective: "The fibres of this muscle
act as those of _others_."--_Cheyne_. Here, "as _those of others_," means,
"as _the fibres_ of _other muscles_."

OBS. 16.--"Comparatives and superlatives seem sometimes to part with their
relative nature, and only to retain their _intensive_, especially those
which are formed by the superlative adverb _most_; as, 'A _most learned_
man,'--'A _most brave_ man:' i. e. not the bravest or the most learned man
that ever was, but a man possessing bravery or learning in a very eminent
degree."--See _Alexander Murray's Gram._, p. 110. This use of the terms of
comparison is thought by some not to be very grammatical.

OBS. 17.--Contractions of the superlative termination _est_, as _high'st_
for _highest, bigg'st for biggest_, though sometimes used by the poets, are
always inelegant, and may justly be considered grammatically improper. They
occur most frequently in doggerel verse, like that of _Hudibras_; the
author of which work, wrote, in his droll fashion, not only the foregoing
monosyllables, but _learned'st_ for _most learned, activ'st_ for _most
active, desperat'st_ for _most desperate, epidemical'st_ for _most
epidemical_, &c.

"And _th' activ'st_ fancies share as loose alloys,
For want of equal weight to counterpoise."--_Butler's Poems_.

"Who therefore finds the _artificial'st_ fools
Have not been chang'd _i th'_ cradle, but the schools."--_Ib._, p. 143.

OBS. 18.--Nouns used adjectively are not varied in number to agree with the
nouns to which they relate, but what is singular or plural when used
substantively, is without number when taken as an adjective: as, "One of
the nine _sister_ goddesses."--_Webster's Dict., w. Muse_. "He has money in
a _savings_ bank." The latter mode of expression is uncommon, and the term
_savings-bank_ is sometimes compounded, but the hyphen does not really
affect the nature of the former word. It is doubtful, however, whether a
plural noun can ever properly assume the character of an adjective;
because, if it is not then really the same as the possessive case, it will
always be liable to be thought a false form of that case. What Johnson
wrote "_fullers earth_" and "_fullers thistle_;" Chalmers has "_fullers
earth_" and "_fuller's thistle_;" Webster, "_fuller's-earth_" and
"_fuller's-thistle_;" Ainsworth, "_fuller's earth_" and "_fuller's
thistle_;" Walker has only "_fullers-earth_;" Worcester,
"_fuller's-earth_;" Cobb, "_fullers earth_;" the Treasury of Knowledge,
"_fullers'-earth_." So unsettled is this part of our grammar, that in many
such cases it is difficult cult to say whether we ought to use the
apostrophe, or the hyphen, or both, or neither. To insert neither, unless
we make a close compound, is to use a plural noun adjectively; which form,
I think, is the most objectionable of all. See "_All souls
day_,"--"_All-fools-day_,"--"_All-saints'-day_," &c., in the dictionaries.
These may well be written "_All Souls' Day_" &c.



_In the Fourth Praxis, it is required of the pupil--to distinguish and
define the different parts of speech, and the classes and modifications of

_The definitions to be given in the Fourth Praxis, are two for an article,
six for a noun, three for an adjective, and one for a pronoun, a verb, a
participle, an adverb, a conjunction, a preposition, or an interjection.


"The best and most effectual method of teaching grammar, is precisely that
of which the careless are least fond: teach learnedly, rebuking whatsoever
is false, blundering, or unmannerly."--_G. Brown_.

_The_ is the definite article. 1. An article is the word _the, an_, or _a_,
which we put before nouns to limit their signification. 2. The definite
article is _the_, which denotes some particular thing or things.

_Best_ is a common adjective, of the superlative degree; compared
irregularly, _good, better, best_. 1. An adjective is a word added to a
noun or pronoun, and generally expresses quality. 2. A common adjective is
any ordinary epithet, or adjective denoting quality or situation. 3. The
superlative degree is that which is _most_ or _least_ of all included with

_And_, is a conjunction. 1. A conjunction is a word used to connect words
or sentences in constructing, and to show the dependence of the terms so

_Most_ is an adverb. 1. An adverb is a word added to a verb, a participle,
an adjective, or an other adverb; and generally expresses time, place,
degree, or manner.

_Effectual_ is a common adjective, compared by means of the adverbs;
_effectual, more effectual, most effectual_; or, _effectual, less
effectual, least effectual_. 1. An adjective is a word added to a noun or
pronoun, and generally expresses quality. 2. A common adjective is any
ordinary epithet, or adjective denoting quality or situation. 3. Those
adjectives which may be varied in sense, but not in form, are compared by
means of adverbs.

_Method_ is a common noun, of the third person, singular number, neuter
gender, and nominative case. 1. A noun is the name of any person, place, or
thing, that can be known or mentioned. 2. A common noun is the name of a
sort, kind, or class, of beings or things. 3. The third person, is that
which denotes the person or thing merely spoken of. 4. The singular number
is that which denotes but one. 5. The neuter gender is that which denotes
things that are neither male nor female. 6. The nominative case is that
form or state of a noun or pronoun, which usually denotes the subject of a
finite verb.

_Of_ is a preposition. 1. A preposition is a word used to express some
relation of different things or thoughts to each other, and is generally
placed before a noun or a pronoun.

_Teaching_ is a participle. 1. A participle is a word derived from a verb,
participating the properties of a verb, and of an adjective or a noun; and
is generally formed by adding _ing, d_, or _ed_, to the verb.

_Grammar_ is a common noun, of the third person, singular number, neuter
gender, and objective case. 1. A noun is the name of any person, place or
thing, that can be known or mentioned. 2. A common noun is the name of a
sort, kind, or class, of beings or things. 3. The third person is that
which denotes the person or thing merely spoken of. 4. The singular number
is that which denotes but one. 5. The neuter gender is that which denotes
things that are neither male nor female. 6. The objective case is that form
or state of a noun or pronoun, which usually denotes the object of a verb,
participle, or preposition.

_Is_ is a verb. 1. A verb is a word that signifies _to be, to act_, or _to
be acted upon_.

_Precisely_ is an adverb. 1. An adverb is a word added to a verb, a
participle, an adjective, or an other adverb; and generally expresses time,
place, degree, or manner.

_That_ is a pronominal adjective, not compared; standing for _that method_,
in the third person, singular number, neuter gender, and nominative case.
[See OBS. 14th,] 1. An adjective is a word added to a noun or pronoun, and
generally expresses quality. 2. A pronominal adjective is a definitive word
which may either accompany its noun or represent it understood. 3. The
third person is that which denotes the person or thing merely spoken of. 4.
The singular number is that which denotes but one. 5. The neuter gender is
that which denotes things that are neither male nor female. 6. The
nominative case is that form or state of a noun or pronoun, which usually
denotes the subject of a finite verb.

_Of_ is a preposition. 1. A preposition is a word used to express some
relation of different things or thoughts to each other, and is generally
placed before a noun or a pronoun.

_Which_ is a pronoun. 1. A pronoun is a word used in stead of a noun.

_The_ is the definite article. 1. An article is the word _the, an_, or _a_,
which we put before nouns to limit their signification. 2. The definite
article is _the_, which denotes some particular thing or things.

_Careless_ is a common adjective, compared by means of the adverbs;
_careless, more careless, most careless_; or, _careless, less careless,
least careless_. 1. An adjective is a word added to a noun or pronoun, and
generally expresses quality. 2. A common adjective is any ordinary epithet,
or adjective denoting quality or situation. 3. Those adjectives which may
be varied in sense, but not in form, are compared by means of adverbs.

_Are_ is a verb. 1. A verb is a word that signifies _to be, to act_, or _to
be acted upon_.

_Least_ is an adverb. 1. An adverb is a word added to a verb, a participle,
an adjective, or an other adverb; and generally expresses time, place,
degree, or manner.

_Fond_ is a common adjective, compared regularly, _fond, fonder, fondest_;
but here made superlative by the adverb _least_. 1. An adjective is a word
added to a noun or pronoun, and generally expresses quality. 2. A common
adjective is any ordinary epithet, or adjective denoting quality or
situation. 8. The superlative degree is that which is _most_ or _least_ of
all included with it.

_Teach_ is a verb. 1. A verb is a word that signifies _to be, to act_, or
_to be acted upon_.

_Learnedly_ is an adverb. 1. An adverb is a word added to a verb, a
participle, an adjective, or an other adverb; and generally expresses time,
place, degree, or manner.

_Rebuking_ is a participle. 1. A participle is a word derived from a verb,
participating the properties of a verb, and of an adjective or a noun; and
is generally formed by adding _ing, d_, or _ed_, to the verb.

_Whatsoever_ is a pronoun. 1. A pronoun is a word used in stead of a noun.

_Is_ is a verb. 1. A verb is a word that signifies _to be, to act_, or _to
be acted upon_.

_False_ is a common adjective, of the positive degree; compared regularly,
_false, falser, falsest_. 1. An adjective is a word added to a noun or
pronoun, and generally expresses quality. 2. A common adjective is any
ordinary epithet, or adjective denoting quality or situation. 3. The
positive degree is that which is expressed by the adjective in its simple

_Blundering_ is a participial adjective, compared by means of the adverbs;
_blundering, more blundering, most blundering_; or, _blundering, less
blundering, least blundering_. 1. An adjective is a word added to a noun or
pronoun, and generally expresses quality. 2. A participial adjective is one
that has the form of a participle, but differs from it by rejecting the
idea of time. 3. Those adjectives which may be varied in sense, but not in
form, are compared by means of adverbs.

_Or_ is a conjunction. 1. A conjunction is a word used to connect words or
sentences in construction, and to show the dependence of the terms so

_Unmannerly_ is a common adjective, compared by means of the adverbs;
_unmannerly, more unmannerly, most unmannerly_; or, _unmannerly, less
unmannerly, least unmannerly_. 1. An adjective is a word added to a noun or
pronoun, and generally expresses quality. 2. A common adjective is any
ordinary epithet, or adjective denoting quality or situation. 3. Those
adjectives which may be varied in sense, but not in form, are compared by
means of adverbs.


"The noblest and most beneficial invention of which human ingenuity can
boast, is that of writing."--_Robertson's America_, Vol. II, p. 193.

"Charlemagne was the tallest, the handsomest, and the strongest man of his
time; his appearance was truly majestic, and he had surprising agility in
all sorts of manly exercises."--_Stories of France_, p. 19.

"Money, like other things, is more or less valuable, as it is less or more
plentiful."--_Beanie's Moral Science_, p. 378.

"The right way of acting, is, in a moral sense, as much a reality, in the
mind of an ordinary man, as the straight or the right road."--_Dr. Murray's
Hist. Lang._, i, 118.

"The full period of several members possesses most dignity and modulation,
and conveys also the greatest degree of force, by admitting the closest
compression of thought."--_Jamieson's Rhet._, p. 79.

"His great master, Demosthenes, in addressing popular audiences, never had
recourse to a similar expedient. He avoided redundancies, as equivocal and
feeble. He aimed only to make the deepest and most efficient impression;
and he employed for this purpose, the plainest, the fewest, and the most
emphatic words."--_Ib._, p. 68.

"The high eloquence which I have last mentioned, is always the offspring of
passion. A man actuated by a strong passion, becomes much greater than he
is at other times. He is conscious of more strength and force; he utters
greater sentiments, conceives higher designs, and executes them with a
boldness and felicity, of which, on other occasions, he could not think
himself capable."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 236.

"His words bore sterling weight, nervous and strong,
In manly tides of sense they roll'd along."--_Churchill_.

"To make the humble proud, the proud submiss,
Wiser the wisest, and the brave more brave."--_W. S. Landor_.


"I am satisfied that in this, as in all cases, it is best, safest, as well
as most right and honorable, to speak freely and plainly."--_Channing's
Letter to Clay_, p. 4.

"The gospel, when preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,
through the wonder-working power of God, can make the proud humble, the
selfish disinterested, the worldly heavenly, the sensual pure."--_Christian
Experience_, p. 399.

"I am so much the better, as I am the liker[184] the best; and so much the
holier, as I am more conformable to the holiest, or rather to Him who is
holiness itself."--_Bp. Beneridge_.

"Whether any thing in Christianity appears to them probable, or improbable;
consistent, or inconsistent; agreeable to what they should have expected,
or the contrary; wise and good, or ridiculous and useless; is perfectly
irrelevant."--_M'Ilvaine's Evidences_, p. 523.

"God's providence is higher, and deeper, and larger, and stronger, than all
the skill of his adversaries; and his pleasure shall be accomplished in
their overthrow, except they repent and become his friends."--_Cox, on
Christianity_, p. 445.

"A just relish of what is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental, in
writing or painting, in architecture or gardening, is a fine preparation
for the same just relish of these qualities in character and behaviour. To
the man who has acquired a taste so acute and accomplished, every action
wrong or improper must be highly disgustful: if, in any instance, the
overbearing power of passion sway him from his duty, he returns to it with
redoubled resolution never to be swayed a second time."--_Kames, Elements
of Criticism_, Vol. i, p. 25.

"In grave Quintilian's copious work, we find
The justest rules and clearest method join'd."--_Pope, on Crit._


"There are several sorts of scandalous tempers; some malicious, and some
effeminate; others obstinate, brutish, and savage. Some humours are
childish and silly; some, false, and others, scurrilous; some, mercenary,
and some, tyrannical."--_Collier's Antoninus_, p. 52.

"Words are obviously voluntary signs: and they are also arbitrary;
excepting a few simple sounds expressive of certain internal emotions,
which sounds being the same in all languages, must be the work of nature:
thus the unpremeditated tones of admiration are the same in all
men."--_Kames, Elements of Crit._, i, 347.

"A stately and majestic air requires sumptuous apparel, which ought not to
be gaudy, nor crowded with little ornaments. A woman of consummate beauty
can bear to be highly adorned, and yet shows best in a plain
dress."--_Ib._, p. 279. "Of all external objects a graceful person is the
most agreeable. But in vain will a person attempt to be graceful, who is
deficient in amiable qualities."--_Ib._, p. 299.

"The faults of a writer of acknowledged excellence are more dangerous,
because the influence of his example is more extensive; and the interest of
learning requires that they should be discovered and stigmatized, before
they have the sanction of antiquity bestowed upon them, and become
precedents of indisputable authority."--_Dr. Johnson, Rambler_, Vol. ii,
No. 93.

"Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverend than plausible,
and more advised than confident; above all things, integrity is their
portion and proper virtue."--_Bacon's Essays_, p. 145.

"The wisest nations, having the most and best ideas, will consequently have
the best and most copious languages."--_Harris's Hermes_, p. 408.

"Here we trace the operation of powerful causes, while we remain ignorant
of their nature; but everything goes on with such regularity and harmony,
as to give a striking and convincing proof of a combining directing
intelligence."--_Life of W. Allen_, Vol. i, p. 170.

"The wisest, unexperienced, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
Irresolute, unhardy, unadventurous."--_Milton_.




"I have the real excuse of the honestest sort of bankrupts."--_Cowley's
Preface_, p. viii.

[FORMULE.--Not proper, because the adjective _honestest_ is harshly
compared by _est_. But, according to a principle stated on page 283d
concerning the regular degrees, "This method of comparison is to be applied
only to monosyllables, and to dissyllables of a smooth termination, or such
as receive it and still have but one syllable after the accent." Therefore,
_honestest_ should be _most honest_; thus, "I have real excuse of the _most
honest_ sort of bankrupts."]

"The honourablest part of talk, is, to give the occasion."--_Bacon's
Essays_, p. 90. "To give him one of his own modestest proverbs."--
_Barclay's Works_, iii, 340. "Our language is now certainly properer and
more natural, than it was formerly."--_Bp. Burnet_. "Which will be of most
and frequentest use to him in the world."--_Locke, on Education_, p. 163.
"The same is notified in the notablest places in the diocese."--_Whitgift_.
"But it was the dreadfullest sight that ever I saw."--_Pilgrim's Progress_,
p. 70. "Four of the ancientest, soberest, and discreetest of the brethren,
chosen for the occasion, shall regulate it."--_Locke, on Church Gov_. "Nor
can there be any clear understanding of any Roman author, especially of
ancienter time, without this skill."--_Walker's Particles_, p. x. "Far the
learnedest of the Greeks."--_Ib._, p. 120. "The learneder thou art, the
humbler be thou."--_Ib._, p. 228. "He is none of the best or honestest."--
_Ib._, p. 274. "The properest methods of communicating it to others."--
_Burn's Gram._, Prof, p. viii. "What heaven's great King hath powerfullest
to send against us."--_Paradise Lost_. "Benedict is not the unhopefullest
husband that I know."--SHAK.: _in Joh. Dict._ "That he should immediately
do all the meanest and triflingest things himself."--RAY: _in Johnson's
Gram._, p. 6. "I shall be named among the famousest of women."--MILTON'S
_Samson Agonistes: ib._ "Those have the inventivest heads for all
purposes."--ASCHAM: _ib._ "The wretcheder are the contemners of all
helps."--BEN JONSON: _ib._ "I will now deliver a few of the properest and
naturallest considerations that belong to this piece."--WOTTON: _ib._ "The
mortalest poisons practised by the West Indians, have some mixture of the
blood, fat, or flesh of man."--BACON: _ib._ "He so won upon him, that he
rendered him one of the faithfulest and most affectionate allies the Medes
ever had."--_Rollin_, ii, 71. "'You see before you,' says he to him, 'the
most devoted servant, and the faithfullest ally, you ever had.'"--_Ib._,
ii, 79. "I chose the flourishing'st tree in all the park."--_Cowley_.
"Which he placed, I think, some centuries backwarder than Julius Africanus
thought fit to place it afterwards."--_Bolingbroke, on History_, p. 53.
"The Tiber, the notedest river of Italy."--_Littleton's Dict._

"To fartherest shores the ambrosial spirit flies."
--_Cutler's Gram._, p. 140.

----"That what she wills to do or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best."
--_Milton_, B. viii, l. 550.


"During the three or four first years of its
existence."--_Taylor's District School_, p. 27.

[FORMULE.--Not proper, because the cardinal numbers, _three_ and _four_ are
put before the ordinal _first_. But, according to the 7th part of Obs. 7th,
page 280th, "In specifying any part of a series, we ought to place the
cardinal number after the ordinal." Therefore the words _three_ and _four_
should be placed after _first_; thus, "During the _first three_ or _four_
years of its existence."]

"To the first of these divisions, my ten last lectures have been
devoted."--_Adams's Rhet._, Vol. i, p. 391. "There are in the twenty-four
states not less than sixty thousand common schools."--_Taylor's District
School_, p. 38. "I know of nothing which gives teachers so much trouble as
this want of firmness."--_Ib._, p. 57. "I know of nothing that throws such
darkness over the line which separates right from wrong."--_Ib._, p. 58.
"None need this purity and simplicity of language and thought so much as
the common school instructor."--_Ib._, p. 64. "I know of no periodical that
is so valuable to the teacher as the Annals of Education."--_Ib._, p. 67.
"Are not these schools of the highest importance? Should not every
individual feel the deepest interest in their character and
condition?"--_Ib._, p. 78. "If instruction were made a profession, teachers
would feel a sympathy for each other."--_Ib._, p. 93. "Nothing is so likely
to interest children as novelty and change."--_Ib._, p. 131. "I know of no
labour which affords so much happiness as that of the teacher's."--_Ib._,
p. 136. "Their school exercises are the most pleasant and agreeable of any
that they engage in."--_Ib._, p. 136. "I know of no exercise so beneficial
to the pupil as that of drawing maps."--_Ib._, p. 176. "I know of nothing
in which our district schools are so defective as they are in the art of
teaching grammar."--_Ib._, p. 196. "I know of nothing so easily acquired as
history."--_Ib._ p. 206. "I know of nothing for which scholars usually have
such an abhorrence, as composition."--_Ib._, p. 210. "There is nothing in
our fellow-men that we should respect with so much sacredness as their good
name."--_Ib._, p. 307. "Sure never any thing was so unbred as that odious
man."--CONGREVE: _in Joh. Dict._ "In the dialogue between the mariner and
the shade of the deceast."--_Philological Museum_, i, 466. "These
master-works would still be less excellent and finisht"--_Ib._, i, 469.
"Every attempt to staylace the language of polisht conversation, renders
our phraseology inelegant and clumsy."--_Ib._, i, 678. "Here are a few of
the unpleasant'st words that ever blotted paper."--SHAK.: _in Joh. Dict._
"With the most easy, undisobliging transitions."--BROOME: _ib._ "Fear is,
of all affections, the unaptest to admit any conference with
reason."--HOOKER: _ib._ "Most chymists think glass a body more
undestroyable than gold itself."--BOYLE: _ib._ "To part with unhackt edges,
and bear back our barge undinted."--SHAK.: _ib._ "Erasmus, who was an
unbigotted Roman Catholic, was transported with this passage."--ADDISON:
_ib._ "There are no less than five words, with any of which the sentence
might have terminated."--_Campbell's Rhet._, p. 397. "The one preach Christ
of contention; but the other, of love."--_Philippians_, i, 16. "Hence we
find less discontent and heart-burnings, than where the subjects are
unequally burdened."--_Art of Thinking_, p. 56.

"The serpent, subtil'st beast of all the field,
I knew; but not with human voice indu'd."
--MILTON: _Joh. Dict., w. Human._

"How much more grievous would our lives appear,
To reach th' eighth hundred, than the eightieth year?"
--DENHAM: B. P., ii, 244.


"Brutus engaged with Aruns; and so fierce was the attack, that they pierced
one another at the same time."--_Lempriere's Dict._

[FORMULE.--Not proper, because the phrase _one another_ is here applied to
two persons only, the words _an_ and _other_ being needlessly compounded.
But, according to Observation 15th, on the Classes of Adjectives, _each
other_ must be applied to two persons or things, and _one an other_ to more
than two. Therefore _one another_ should here be _each other_; thus,
"Brutus engaged with Aruns; and so fierce was the attack, that they pierced
_each other_ at the same time."]

"Her two brothers were one after another turned into stone."--_Art of
Thinking_, p. 194. "Nouns are often used as adjectives; as, A _gold_-ring,
a _silver_-cup."--_Lennie's Gram._, p. 14. "Fire and water destroy one
another."--_Wanostrocht's Gram._, p. 82. "Two negatives in English destroy
one another, or are equivalent to an affirmative."--_Lowth's Gram._, p. 94;
_E. Devis's_, 111; _Mack's_, 147; _Murray's_, 198; _Churchill's_, 148;
_Putnam's_, 135; _C. Adams's_, 102; _Hamlin's_, 79; _Alger's_, 66;
_Fisk's_, 140; _Ingersoll's_, 207; and _many others_. "Two negatives
destroy one another, and are generally equivalent to an
affirmative."--_Kirkham's Gram._, p. 191; _Felton's_, 85. "Two negatives
destroy one another and make an affirmative."--_J. Flint's Gram._, p. 79.
"Two negatives destroy one another, being equivalent to an
affirmative."--_Frost's El. of E. Gram._, p. 48. "Two objects, resembling
one another, are presented to the imagination."--_Parker's Exercises in
Comp._, p. 47. "Mankind, in order to hold converse with each other, found
it necessary to give names to objects."--_Kirkham's Gram._, p. 42. "Words
are derived from each other[185] in various ways."--_Cooper's Gram._, p.
108. "There are many other ways of deriving words from one
another."--_Murray's Gram._, p. 131. "When several verbs connected by
conjunctions, succeed each other in a sentence, the auxiliary is usually
omitted except with the first."--_Frost's Gram._, p. 91. "Two or more
verbs, having the same nominative case, and immediately following one
another, are also separated by commas." [186]--_Murray's Gram._, p. 270;
_C. Adams's_, 126; _Russell's_, 113; and others. "Two or more adverbs
immediately succeeding each other, must be separated by commas."--_Same
Grammars_. "If, however, the members succeeding each other, are very
closely connected, the comma is unnecessary."--_Murray's Gram._, p. 273;
_Comly's_, 152; _and others_. "Gratitude, when exerted towards one another,
naturally produces a very pleasing sensation in the mind of a grateful
man."--_Mur._, p. 287. "Several verbs in the infinitive mood, having a
common dependence, and succeeding one another, are also divided by
commas."--_Comly's Gram._, p. 153. "The several words of which it consists,
have so near a relation to each other."--_Murray's Gram._, p. 268;
_Comly's_, 144; _Russell's_, 111; _and others_. "When two or more verbs
have the same nominative, and immediately follow one another, or two or
more adverbs immediately succeed one another, they must be separated by
commas."--_Comly's Gram._, p. 145. "Nouns frequently succeed each other,
meaning the same thing."--_Sanborn's Gram._, p. 63. "And these two tenses
may thus answer one another."--_Johnson's Gram._ _Com._, p. 322. "Or some
other relation which two objects bear to one another."--_Jamieson's Rhet._,
p. 149. "That the heathens tolerated each other, is allowed."--_Gospel its
own Witness_, p. 76. "And yet these two persons love one another
tenderly."--_Murray's E. Reader_, p. 112. "In the six hundredth and first
year."--_Gen._, viii, 13. "Nor is this arguing of his but a reiterate
clamour."--_Barclay's Works_, i, 250. "In severals of them the inward life
of Christianity is to be found."--_Ib._, iii, 272. "Though Alvarez,
Despauterius, and other, allow it not to be Plural."--_Johnson's Gram.
Com._, p. 169. "Even the most dissipate and shameless blushed at the
sight."--_Lemp. Dict., w. Antiochus_. "We feel a superior satisfaction in
surveying the life of animals, than that of vegetables."--_Jamieson's
Rhet._, 172. "But this man is so full fraughted with malice."--_Barclay's
Works_, i11, 205. "That I suggest some things concerning the properest
means."--_Blair's Rhet._, p. 337.

"So hand in hand they pass'd, the loveliest pair
That ever since in love's embraces met."
--_Milton_, P. L., B., iv, l. 321.

"Aim at the high'est, without the high'est attain'd
Will be for thee no sitting, or not long."
--_Id._, P. R., B. iv, l. 106.


A Pronoun is a word used in stead of a noun: as, The boy loves _his_ book;
_he_ has long lessons, and _he_ learns _them_ well.

The pronouns in our language are twenty-four; and their variations are
thirty-two: so that the number of _words_ of this class, is fifty-six.


OBS. 1.--The word for which a pronoun stands, is called its _antecedent_,
because it usually precedes the pronoun. But some have limited the term
_antecedent_ to the word represented by a _relative_ pronoun. There can be
no propriety in this, unless we will have every pronoun to be a relative,
when it stands for a noun which precedes it; and, if so, it should be
called something else, when the noun is to be found elsewhere. In the
example above, _his_ and _he_ represent _boy_, and _them_ represents
_lessons_; and these nouns are as truly the antecedents to the pronouns, as
any can be. Yet _his, he_, and _them_, in our most approved grammars, are
not called relative pronouns, but personal.

OBS. 2.--Every pronoun may be explained as standing for the _name_ of
something, for the _thing itself_ unnamed, or for a _former pronoun_; and,
with the noun, pronoun, or thing, for which it stands, every pronoun must
agree in person, number, and gender. The exceptions to this, whether
apparent or real, are very few; and, as their occurrence is unfrequent,
there will be little occasion to notice them till we come to syntax. But if
the student will observe the use and import of pronouns, he may easily see,
that some of them are put _substantively_, for nouns not previously
introduced; some, _relatively_, for nouns or pronouns going before; some,
_adjectively_, for nouns that must follow them in any explanation which can
be made of the sense. These three modes of substitution, are very
different, each from the others. Yet they do not serve for an accurate
division of the pronouns; because it often happens, that a substitute which
commonly represents the noun in one of these ways, will sometimes represent
it in an other.

OBS. 3.--The pronouns _I_ and _thou_, in their different modifications,
stand immediately for persons that are, in general, sufficiently known
without being named; (_I_ meaning _the speaker_, and _thou, the hearer_;)
their antecedents, or nouns, are therefore generally _understood_. The
other personal pronouns, also, are sometimes taken in a general and
demonstrative sense, to denote persons or things not previously mentioned;
as, "_He_ that hath knowledge, spareth his words."--_Bible_. Here _he_ is
equivalent to _the man_, or _the person_. "The care of posterity is most in
_them_ that have no posterity."--_Bacon_. Here _them_ is equivalent to
_those persons_. "How far do you call _it_ to such a place?"--_Priestley's
Gram._, p. 85. Here _it_, according to Priestley, is put for _the
distance_. "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and _they_ should
seek the law at his mouth."--_Malachi_, ii, 7. Here _they_ is put
indefinitely for _men_ or _people_. So _who_ and _which_, though called
relatives, do not always relate to a noun or pronoun going before them; for
_who_ may be a direct substitute for _what person_; and _which_ may mean
_which person_, or _which thing_: as, "And he that was healed, wist not
_who_ it was."--_John_, v, 13. That is, "_The man who_ was healed, knew not
_what person_ it was." "I care not _which_ you take; they are so much
alike, one cannot tell _which_ is _which_."

OBS. 4.--A pronoun with which a question is asked, usually stands for some
person or thing unknown to the speaker; the noun, therefore, cannot occur
before it, but may be used after it or in place of it. Examples: "In the
grave, _who_ shall give thee thanks?"--_Ps._, vi, 5. Here the word _who_ is
equivalent to _what person_, taken interrogatively. "Which of you
convinceth me of sin?"--_John_, viii, 46. That is, "_Which man_ of you?"
"Master, _what_ shall we do?"--_Luke_, iii, 12. That is, "_What act_, or
_thing_?" These solutions, however, convert _which_ and _what_ into
_adjectives_: and, in fact, as they have no inflections for the numbers and
cases, there is reason to think them at all times essentially such. We call
them pronouns, to avoid the inconvenience of supposing and supplying an
infinite multitude of ellipses. But _who_, though often equivalent (as
above) to an adjective and a noun, is never itself used adjectively; it is
always a pronoun.

OBS. 5.--In respect to _who_ or _whom_, it sometimes makes little or no
difference to the sense, whether we take it as a demonstrative pronoun
equivalent to _what person_, or suppose it to relate to an antecedent
understood before it: as, "Even so the Son quickeneth _whom_ he
will."--_John_, v, 21. That is--"_what persons_ he will," or, "_those
persons_ whom he will;" for the Greek word for _whom_, is, in this
instance, plural. The former is a shorter explanation of the meaning, but
the latter I take to be the true account of the construction; for, by the
other, we make _whom_ a double relative, and the object of two governing
words at once. So, perhaps, of the following example, which Dr. Johnson
cites under the word _who_, to show what he calls its "_disjunctive_

"There thou tellst _of_ kings, and _who_ aspire;
_Who_ fall, _who_ rise, _who_ triumph, _who_ do moan."--_Daniel_.

OBS. 6.--It sometimes happens that the real antecedent, or the term which
in the order of the sense must stand before the pronoun, is not placed
antecedently to it, in the order given to the words: as, "It is written, To
_whom_ he was not spoken of, _they_ shall see; and they that have not
heard, shall understand."--_Romans_, xv, 21. Here the sense is, "_They_ to
_whom_ he was not spoken of, shall see." Whoever takes the passage
otherwise, totally misunderstands it. And yet the same order of the words
might be used to signify, "They shall see _to whom_ (that is, _to what
persons_) he was not spoken of." Transpositions of this kind, as well as of
every other, occur most frequently in poetry. The following example is from
an Essay on Satire, printed with Pope's Works, but written by one of his

"_Whose_ is the crime, the scandal too be _theirs_;
The knave and fool are their own libellers."--_J. Brown._

OBS. 7.--The personal and the interrogative pronouns often stand in
construction as the antecedents to other pronouns: as, "_He_ also _that_ is
slothful in his work, is brother to _him that_ is a great
waster."--_Prov._, xviii. 9. Here _he_ and _him_ are each equivalent to
_the man_, and each is taken as the antecedent to the relative which
follows it. "For both _he that_ sanctifieth, and _they who_ are sanctified,
are all of one: for which cause, _he_ is not ashamed to call _them_
brethren."--_Heb._, ii, 11. Here _he_ and _they_ may be considered the
antecedents to _that_ and _who_, of the first clause, and also to _he_ and
_them_, of the second. So the interrogative _who_ may be the antecedent to
the relative _that_; as, "_Who that_ has any moral sense, dares tell lies?"
Here _who_, being equivalent to _what person_, is the term with which the
other pronoun agrees. Nay, an interrogative pronoun, (or the noun which is
implied in it,) may be the antecedent to a _personal_ pronoun; as, "_Who_
hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to _him_
again?"--_Romans_, xi, 35. Here the idea is, "_What person_ hath first
given _any thing_ to _the Lord_, so that it ought to be repaid _him_?" that
is, "so that _the gift_ ought to be recompensed from Heaven to _the
giver_?" In the following example, the first pronoun is the antecedent to
all the rest:--

"And _he that_ never doubted of _his_ state,
_He_ may perhaps--perhaps _he_ may--too late."--_Cowper_.

OBS. 8.--So the personal pronouns of the _possessive_ case, (which some
call adjectives,) are sometimes represented by relatives, though less
frequently than their primitives: as, "How different, O Ortogrul, is _thy_
condition, _who_ art doomed to the perpetual torments of unsatisfied
desire!"--_Dr. Johnson_. Here _who_ is of the second person, singular,
masculine; and represents the antecedent pronoun _thy_: for _thy_ is a
pronoun, and not (as some writers will have it) an adjective. Examples like
this, disprove the doctrine of those grammarians who say that _my, thy,
his, her, its_, and their plurals, _our, your, their_, are adjectives. For,
if they were mere adjectives, they could not thus be made antecedents.
Examples of this construction are sufficiently common, and sufficiently
clear, to settle that point, unless they can be better explained in some
other way. Take an instance or two more: "And they are written for _our_
admonition, upon _whom_ the ends of the world are come."--_1 Cor._, x, 11.

"Be thou the first true merit to befriend;
_His_ praise is lost, _who_ stays till all commend."--_Pope_.


Pronouns are divided into three classes; _personal, relative_, and

I. A _personal pronoun_ is a pronoun that shows, by its form, of what
person it is; as, "Whether _it_[187] were _I_ or _they_, so _we_ preach,
and so _ye_ believed."--_1 Cor._, xv, 11.

The simple personal pronouns are five: namely, _I_, of the first person;
_thou_, of the second person; _he, she_, and _it_, of the third person.

The compound personal pronouns are also five: namely, _myself_, of the
first person; _thyself_, of the second person; _himself, herself_, and
_itself_, of the third person.

II. A _relative pronoun_ is a pronoun that represents an antecedent word or
phrase, and connects different clauses of a sentence; as, "No people can be
great, _who_ have ceased to be virtuous."--_Dr. Johnson._

The relative pronouns are _who, which, what, that, as_, and the compounds
_whoever_ or _whosoever, whichever_ or _whichsoever, whatever_ or

_What_ is a kind of _double relative_, equivalent to _that which_ or _those
which_; and is to be parsed, first as antecedent, and then as relative: as,
"This is _what_ I wanted; that is to say, _the thing which_ I wanted."--_L.
Murray_. III. An _interrogative pronoun_ is a pronoun with which a question
is asked; as, "_Who_ touched my clothes?"--_Mark_, v, 30.

The interrogative pronouns are _who, which_, and _what_; being the same in
form as relatives.

_Who_ demands a person's name; _which_, that a person or thing be
distinguished from others; _what_, the name of a thing, or a person's
occupation and character.


OBS. 1.--The pronouns _I_ and _myself, thou_ and _thyself_, with their
inflections, are literally applicable to persons only; but, _figuratively_,
they represent brutes, or whatever else the human imagination invests with
speech and reason. The latter use of them, though literal perhaps in every
thing _but person_, constitutes the purest kind of personification. For
example: "The _trees_ went forth on a time to anoint a king over them: and
they said unto the _olive-tree_, 'Reign _thou_ over _us_.' But the
_olive-tree_ said unto them, 'Should _I_ leave _my_ fatness, wherewith by
_me_ they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?'" See
_Judges_, ix, from 8 to 16.

OBS. 2.--The pronouns _he_ and _himself, she_ and _herself_, with their
inflections, are literally applicable to persons and to brutes, and to
these only; if applied to lifeless objects, they animate them, and are
figurative _in gender_, though literal perhaps in every other respect. For
example: "A _diamond_ of beauty and lustre, observing at _his_ side in the
same cabinet, not only many other gems, but even a _loadstone_, began to
question the latter how _he_ came there--_he, who_ appeared to be no better
than a mere flint, a sorry rusty-looking pebble, without the least shining
quality to advance _him_ to such honour; and concluded with desiring _him_
to keep _his_ distance, and to pay a proper respect to _his_
superiors."--_Kames's Art of Thinking_, p. 226.

OBS. 3.--The pronoun _it_, as it carries in itself no such idea as that of
personality, or sex, or life, is chiefly used with reference to things
inanimate; yet the word is, in a certain way, applicable to animals, or
even to persons; though it does not, in itself, present them as such. Thus
we say, "_It_ is _I_;"--"_It_ was _they_;"--"_It_ was _you_;"--"_It_ was
your _agent_;"--"_It_ is your _bull_ that has killed one of my oxen." In
examples of this kind, the word _it_ is simply demonstrative; meaning, _the
thing or subject spoken of_. That subject, whatever it be in itself, may be
introduced again after the verb, in any person, number, or gender, that
suits it. But, as the verb agrees with the pronoun _it_, the word which
follows, can in no sense be made, as Dr. Priestley will have it to be, the
_antecedent_ to that pronoun. Besides, it is contrary to the nature of what
is primarily demonstrative, to represent a preceding word of any kind. The
Doctor absurdly says, "Not only things, but persons, may be the
_antecedent_ to this pronoun; as, _Who is it_? _Is it not Thomas_? i. e.
_Who is the person_? _Is not he Thomas?_"--_Priestley's Gram._, p. 85. In
these examples, the terms are transposed by interrogation; but that
circumstance, though it may have helped to deceive this author and his
copiers, affects not my assertion.

OBS. 4.--The pronoun _who_ is usually applied only to persons. Its
application to brutes or to things is improper, unless we mean to personify
them. But _whose_, the possessive case of this relative, is sometimes used
to supply the place of the possessive case, otherwise wanting, to the
relative _which_. Examples: "The mutes are those consonants _whose_ sounds
cannot be protracted."--_Murray's Gram._, p. 9. "Philosophy, _whose_ end
is, to instruct us in the knowledge of nature."--_Ib._, p. 54; _Campbell's
Rhet._, 421. "Those adverbs are compared _whose_ primitives are
obsolete."--_Adam's Latin Gram._, p. 150. "After a sentence _whose_ sense
is complete in itself, a period is used."--_Nutting's Gram._, p. 124. "We
remember best those things _whose_ parts are methodically disposed, and
mutually connected."--_Beattie's Moral Science_, i, 59. "Is there any other
doctrine _whose_ followers are punished?"--ADDISON: _Murray's Gram._, p.
54; _Lowth's_, p. 25.

"The question, _whose_ solution I require,
Is, what the sex of women most desire."--DRYDEN: _Lowth_, p. 25.

OBS. 5.--Buchanan, as well as Lowth, condemns the foregoing use of _whose_,
except in grave poetry: saying, "This manner of _personification_ adds an
air of dignity to the higher and more solemn kind of poetry, but it is
highly improper in the lower kind, or in prose."--_Buchanan's English
Syntax_, p. 73. And, of the last two examples above quoted, he says, "It
ought to be _of which_, in both places: i. e. The followers _of which_; the
solution _of which_."--_Ib._, p. 73. The truth is, that no personification
is here intended. Hence it may be better to avoid, if we can, this use of
_whose_, as seeming to imply what we do not mean. But Buchanan himself
(stealing the text of an older author) has furnished at least one example
as objectionable as any of the foregoing: "Prepositions are naturally
placed betwixt the Words _whose_ Relation and Dependence each of them is to
express."--_English Syntax_, p. 90; _British Gram._, p. 201. I dislike this
construction, and yet sometimes adopt it, for want of another as good. It
is too much, to say with Churchill, that "this practice is now
discountenanced by all correct writers."--_New Gram._, p. 226. Grammarians
would perhaps differ less, if they would read more. Dr. Campbell commends
the use of _whose_ for _of which_, as an improvement suggested by good
taste, and established by abundant authority. See _Philosophy of Rhetoric_,
p. 420. "WHOSE, the possessive or genitive case of _who_ or _which_;
applied to persons or things."--_Webster's Octavo Dict._ "_Whose_ is well
authorized by good usage, as the possessive of _which_."--_Sanborn's
Gram._, p. 69. "Nor is any language complete, _whose_ verbs have not
tenses."--_Harris's Hermes_.

"--------'Past and future, are the wings
On _whose_ support, harmoniously conjoined,
Moves the great spirit of human knowledge.'--MS."
_Wordsworth's Preface to his Poems_, p. xviii.

OBS. 6.--The relative _which_, though formerly applied to persons and made
equivalent to _who_, is now confined to brute animals and inanimate things.
Thus, "Our Father _which_ art in heaven," is not now reckoned good English;
it should be, "Our Father _who_ art in heaven." In this, as well as in many
other things, the custom of speech has changed; so that what was once
right, is now ungrammatical. The use of _which_ for _who_ is very common in
the Bible, and in other books of the seventeenth century; but all good
writers now avoid the construction. It occurs seventy-five times in the
third chapter of Luke; as, "Joseph, _which_ was the son of Heli, _which_
was the son of Matthat," etc. etc. After a personal term taken by metonymy
for a thing, _which_ is not improper; as, "Of the particular _author which_
he is studying."--_Gallaudet_. And as an interrogative or a demonstrative
pronoun or adjective, the word _which_ is still applicable to persons, as
formerly; as, "_Which_ of you all?"--"_Which_ man of you all?"--"There
arose a reasoning among them, _which_ of them should be the
greatest."--_Luke_, ix, 46. "Two fair twins--the puzzled Strangers, _which_
is _which_, inquire."--_Tickell_.

OBS. 7.--If _which_, as a direct relative, is inapplicable to persons,
_who_ ought to be preferred to it in all personifications: as,

"The seal is set. Now welcome thou dread power,
Nameless, yet thus omnipotent, _which_ here
Walk'st in the shadow of the midnight hour."
BYRON: _Childe Harold's Pilgrimage_, Cant, iv, st. 138.

What sort of personage is here imagined and addressed, I will not pretend
to say; but it should seem, that _who_ would be more proper than _which_,
though less agreeable in sound before the word _here_. In one of his notes
on this word, Churchill has fallen into a strange error. He will have _who_
to represent a _horse!_ and that, in such a sense, as would require _which_
and not _who_, even for a person. As he prints the masculine pronoun in
Italics, perhaps he thought, with Murray and Webster, that _which_ must
needs be "of the _neuter gender_." [189] He says, "In the following
passage, _which_ seems to be used _instead_ of _who_:--

'Between two horses, _which_ doth bear him best;
I have, perhaps, some shallow spirit of judgment'
SHAKS., 1 Hen. VI."--_Churchill's Gram._, p. 226.

OBS. 8.--The pronoun _what_ is usually applied to things only. It has a
twofold relation, and is often used (by ellipsis of the noun) both as
antecedent and as relative, in the form of a single word; being equivalent
to _that which_, or _the thing which,--those which_, or _the things which_.
In this double relation, _what_ represents two cases at the same time: as,
"He is ashamed of _what_ he has done;" that is, "of what [_thing_ or
_action_] he has done;"--or, "of _that_ [thing or action] _which_ he has
done." Here are two objectives. The two cases are sometimes alike,
sometimes different; for either of them may be the nominative, and either,
the objective. Examples: "The dread of censure ought not to prevail _over
what is_ proper."--_Kames, El. of Crit._, Vol. i, p. 252. "The public ear
will not easily _bear what is_ slovenly and incorrect."--_Blair's Rhet._,
p. 12. "He who buys _what_ he does not need, will often need _what_ he
cannot buy."--_Student's Manual_, p. 290. "_What_ is just, is honest; and
again, _what_ is honest, is just."--_Cicero_. "He that hath an ear, let him
hear _what_ the Spirit saith unto the churches."--_Rev._, ii, 7, 11, 17,
29; iii, 6, 13, 22.

OBS. 9.--This pronoun, _what_, is usually of the singular number, though
sometimes plural: as, "I must turn to the faults, or _what appear_ such to
me."--_Byron_. "All distortions and mimicries, as such, are _what raise_
aversion instead of pleasure."--_Steele_. "Purified indeed from _what
appear_ to be its real defects."--_Wordsworth's Pref._, p. xix. "Every
single impression, made even by the same object, is distinguishable from
_what_ have gone before, and from _what_ succeed."--_Kames, El. of Crit._,
Vol. i, p. 107. "Sensible people express no thoughts but _what_ make some
figure."--_Ib._, Vol. i, p. 399. The following example, which makes _what_
both singular and plural at once, is a manifest solecism: "_What has_ since
followed _are_ but natural consequences."--J. C. CALHOUN, _Speech in U. S.
Senate_, March 4, 1850. Here _has_ should be _have_; or else the form
should be this: "What has since followed, _is_ but _a_ natural

OBS. 10.--The common import of this remarkable pronoun, _what_, is, as we
see in the foregoing examples, twofold; but some instances occur, in which
it does not appear to have this double construction, but to be simply
declaratory; and many, in which the word is simply an adjective: as,
"_What_ a strange run of luck I have had to-day!"--_Columbian Orator_, p.
293. Here _what_ is a mere adjective; and, in the following examples, a
pronoun indefinite:--

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