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are used to express the present and future as well as the past: for which see page 83.
1. It is proper further to observe, that verbs of the infinitive mood in the following form ; “ to write,” “ to be writing,” and “to be written," always denote something contemporary with the time of the governing verb, or subsequent to it: but when verbs of that mood are expressed as follows ; “ To have been writing,” “ to have written," and «s to have been written,” they always denote something antecedent to the time of the governing verb. This remark is thought to be of importance; for if duly attended to, it will, in most cases, be sufficient to direct us in the relative application of these tenses.
The following sentence is properly and analogically expressed : “ I found him better than I expected to find him.” “ Expected to have found him," is irreconcilable alike to grammar and to sense. Indeed, all verbs expressive of hope, desire, intention, or cominand, must invariably be followed by the present, and not the perfect of the infinitive. Every person would perceive an error in this expression ; “ It is long since I commanded him to have done it:" Yet “ expected to have found,” is no better. It is as clear that the finding must be posterior to the expectation, as that the obedience must be posterior to the command.
In the sentence which follows, the verb is with propriety put in the perfect tense of the infinitive mood; “ It would have afforded me great pleasure, as often as I reflected upon it, to have been the messenger of such intelligence.” As the message, in this instance, was antecedent to the pleasure, and not contemporary with it, the verb expressive of the message must denote that antecedence, by being in the perfect of the infioitive. If the message and the pleasure bad been referred to as contemporary, the subsequent verb would, with equal propriety, have been put in the present of the infinitive: as, « It would have afforded me great pleasure, to be the messenger of such intelligence.” In the former instance, the phrase in question is equivalent to these words ; “If I had been the messenger;" in the latter instance, to this expression ; “ Being the messenger.”-For a further discussion of this subject, see the Twelfth edition of the Key to the Exercises, p. 60, and the Octavo Grammar, RULE XII.
It is proper to inform the learner, that, in order to express the past time with the defective verb ought, the per. fect of the infinitive must always be used : as, “ He ought to have done it.” When we use this verb, this is the only possible way to distinguish the past from the present.
In support of the positions advanced under this rule, we can produce the sentiments of eminent grammarians; amongst whom are Lowth and Campbell. But there are some writers on grammar, who strenuously maintain, that the governed verb in the infinitive ought to be in the past tense, when the verb which governs it, is in the past time. Though this cannot be admitted, in the instances which are controverted under this rule, or in any instances of a similar nature, yet there can be no doubt that, in many cases, in which the thing referred to preceded the governing verb, it would be proper and allowable. We may say; “ From a conversation I once had with him, he appeared to have studied Homer with great care and judgment.” It would be proper also to say, “ From his conversation, he appears to have studied Homer with great care and judgment;" “ That unhappy man is supposed to have died by violence.” These examples are not only consistent with our rule, but they confirm and illustrate it. It is the tense of the governing verb only, that marks what is called the absolute time; the tense of the verb governed,
marks solely its relative time with respect to the other. .: To assert, as some writers do, that verbs in the infinitive • 'mood have no tenses, no relative distinctions of present,
past, and future, is inconsistent with just grammatical views of the subject. That these verbs associate with verbs in all the tenses, is no proof of their having no peculiar time of their own. Whatever period the governing verb assumes, whethier present, past, or future, the governed verb in the infinitive always respects that period, and its time is cal
culated from it. Thus, the time of the infinitive may be
before, after, or the same as, the time of the governing wyerb, according as the thing signified by the infinitive is
supposed to be before, after, or present with, the thing denoted by the governing verb. It is, therefore, with great
propriety, that tenses are assigned to verbs of the infinitive to mood. The point of time from which they are computed, viis of no consequence; since present, past, and future, are
completely applicable to them. w We shall conclude our observations under this rule, by remarking, that though it is often proper to use the perfect of the infinitive after the governing verb, yet there are particular cases, in which it would be better to give the expression a different form. Thus, instead of saying, “ I wish to have written to him sooner,” “I then wished to have written to himn sooner," “ He will one day wish to have written sooner;" it would be more perspicuous and forcible, as well as more agreeable to the practice of good writers, to say ; " I wish that I had written to him sooner," “ I then wished that I had written to him sooner,” “He will one day wish that he had written sooner.” Should the justness of these strictures be admitted, there would still be numerous occasions for the use of the past infinitive; as we may perceive by a few examples. “ It would ever afterwards have been a source of pleasure, to have found him wise and virtuous.” “ To have deferred his repentance longer, would have disqualified him for repenting at all.”
“ They will then see, that to have faithfully performed : their duty, would have been their greatest consolation.”*
. .' , tefte , RULE XIV, * " Participles have the same government as the *'*verbs have from which they are derived : as, “I 4,"am weary with hearing him ; " “ She is instructing
ús ;" * 'The tutor is admonishing Charles.” 1' X'TI3 TS!! 1. Exercises, p. 97. Key, p. 61. 24. ST152213 3.1*: * See Key 10 the English Exercises, Twelfth Edil. Rule xiii. The Note.
i 1. Participles are sometimes governed by the article; for the present participle, with the definite article the bes fore it, becomes a substantive, and must have the preposition of after it: as, “ These are the rules of grammar, by the observing of which, you may avoid mistakes." "It would not be proper to say, “ by the observing which ;" nor, “by observing of which ;" but the phrase, without either article or preposition, would be right: as, “ by observing which." The article a or an, has the same effect: as, « This was a betraying of the trust reposed in him.”
This rule arises from the nature and idiom of our language, and from as plain a principle as any on which it is founded ; namely, that a word which has the article before it, and the possessive preposition of after it, must be a noun : and, if a noun, it ought to follow the construction of a noun, and not to have the regimen of a verb. It is the participial termination of this sort of words that is apt to deceive us, and make us treat them as if they were of an amphibious species, partly nouns and partly verbs.
The following are a few examples of the violation of this rule. “ He was sent to prepare the way by preaching of repentance;" it ought to be, “by the preaching of repentance ;" or,“ by preaching repentance.” “By the continual mortifying our corrupt affections ;" it should be," by the continual mortifying of," or, “by continually morti. fying our corrupt affections.” “ They laid out themselves towards the advancing and promoting the good of it;" “ towards advancing and promoting the good.” “It is an overvaluing ourselves, to reduce every thing to the rarrow measure of our capacities;” “it is overvaluing ourselves,” or, “ an overvaluing of ourselves.” “ Keeping of one day in seven,” &c. it ought to be, “ the keeping of one day;" or, “ keeping one day.”
A phrase in which the article precedes the present participle and the possessive preposition follows it, will not, in every instance, convey the same meaning, as would be conveyed by the participle without the article and prepor
sition. “ He expressed the pleasure he had in the hearing of the philosopher," is capable of a different sense from, " He expressed the pleasure he had in hearing the philo sopher,” When, therefore, we wish, for the sake of har, inony or variety, to substitute one of these phraseologies for the other, we should previously consider whether they are perfectly similar in the sentiments they convey.
2. The same observations which have been made respecting the effect of the article and participle, appear to be applicable to the pronoun and participle, when they are simi, larly associated : as, “ Much depends on their observing of the rule, and error will be the consequence of their neglecting of it," instead of " their observing the rule, and their neglecting it." We shall perceive this more clearly, if we substitute a noun for the pronoun: as, “ Much depends upon Tyro's observing of the rule,” &c. But, as this construction sounds rather harshly, it would, in gene. ral, be better to express the-sentiment in the following, or some other form: “ Much depends on the rule's being observed; and error will be the consequence of iis being neglected:” or “on observing the rule; and-of neglecting it.” This remark may be applied to several other modes of expression to be found in this work; which, though they are contended for as strictly correct, are not always the most eligible, on account of their unpleasant sound. See pages 56, 77, 171–175.
We sometimes meet with expressions like the following: “ In forming of his sentences, he was very exact;" “ From calling of names, he proceeded to blows.” But this is incorrect language.; for prepositions do not, like articles and pronouns, convert the participle itself into the nature of a substantive ; as we have shown above in the phrase, “ By observing which.” And yet the participle with its adjuncts, may be considered as a substantive phrase in the objective case, governed by the preposition or verb, expressed or understood: as, “ By promising much, and per. forming but little, we become despicable.” “ He studied to avoid expressing himself too severely."