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present infinitive to be is from the former. In German the latter is retained as a neuter noun bač Šćesen, a word much used for being, existence, substance, essence. It is for the German language, not indeed a substantive-verb, but a ‘substantive-noun.” Also they have from the same source Jemtsen, the participle of their symbol-verb. But these are not the only roots which in our language have exercised this symbolic power.
There is another substantive-verb in English, which is now rarely used, and only in poetry. It is the verb worth =be. It belongs to the older form of our language, rather than to modern English. In Saxon it was thus conjugated: WEOR8AN, weAR8, GEwoRDEN. The whole verb is still in full force in German: merben, marb, gemoorben. But with us it was already archaic in Chaucer's time. It is but rarely found in his writings. The participial form occurs in his Troilus and Cresside, where he is saying of love between the Sexes, that without it
i.e. No living thing has come into being (ift gemorben) or can escape extermination. In this place it is the participle. But the form in which it is most generally known is the imperative or subjunctiveimperative: as, Wo worth this day; that is, ‘Woe be to this day;’ as Ezekiel xxx. 2, and in The Lady of the Lake,
‘Woe worth the chase, woe worth the day;
We find the infinitive in the Coke's Tale of Gamelyn :
“Cursed mot he worthe bothe fleisch and blood,
In the following quotation from the Creed of Piers Ploughman, 744, we have the infinitive twice, and once with the
ancient termination :-
Oper falsly to a frere be fend for to seruen I
TRANSLATION.—Now each cobbler may set his son to school, and every beggar's brat may learn on the book and become a writer and dwell with a lord; or iniquitously become a friar, the fiend to serve 1 So of that beggar's brat, a bishop shall be made, &c.
In Shakspeare we find this verb played off against the substantive worth: ‘Her worth worth yours;” that is, in Latin, ‘Ejus meritum fiat vestrum."—The edition of Messrs. Clark and Wright, vol. i. p. 387, where may be seen the conjectures which this passage has provoked.
In this place we consider the symbol-verb only as a phenomenon and a product of speech. The production of this particular word is to the verb-system what the leader is to a tree. Cut it off, and the tree will try to produce another leader. If we could imagine the whole elaborate system of verbs to be utterly abolished from memory and consigned to blank oblivion, insomuch that there remained no materials for speech but nouns, pronouns, and the rest, the verb would yet grow again, as surely as a tree when it is cut down (unless it die) will sprout again. The verb would form itself again, and it would repeat its ancient career, and the topmost product of that career would be as before, the symbol-verb to be. Proof enough of this will be seen in the fact that many roots have in our stock of languages made a run for this position; and in the further fact that languages whose development has been wide of ours, as the Hebrew, have culminated in the selfsame result—the substantive-verb and out of it the symbol-verb. In the third section of the Syntax we shall have to consider this symbolverb in some of the effects which it has caused. Such are the strong verbs and the symbol-verbs which they have produced. We cannot close this section without a few words of comment. The venerable sire of Gothic philology, Jacob Grimm, has said of the strong preterites that they constitute one of the chief beauties of our family of languages (‘eine haupt-Schönheit unsrer sprachen'). In this sentiment all philologers seem agreed. The prefaces and other critical apparatus of the volumes of the Early English Text Society afford abundant testimony to the fact that this feature has a peculiar attraction for those who are seeking to penetrate the mysteries of language. To those volumes we refer our readers for a rich collection of details for which the present manual has not sufficient space. The question naturally rises, How did so very singular a contrivance come into existence 2 The question is put here, not so much for the sake of the answer that can now be given, as for the purpose of directing the student to those enquiries which will supply a definite and practical aim to his more extended investigations. It has been surmised by Grimm that the origin of this internal and vocalic change is to be sought in reduplication. He particularly instances the preterite hight, which in the Saxon form was hel, with an older form occasionally used hehl, and which in Gothic was haiiháit. Gothic Gospels, Luke xiv. Io, 16. This from the root HAT (infinitive hatan) looks exceedingly like as if a reduplication of the root had by some sort of compensation got simplified at length into the form het. The German ging, preterite of the verb go, has again a form which (though there is another way of explaining it) might easily have been produced by a reduplication of the root. But next to hehl, there is no example so striking as that of the verb to do, which is strong by its participle done, and yet in its preterite has the appearance of a weak form. It is redeemed from this anomalous inconsistency by supposing dyde, the Saxon form of did, to be a reduplication of the root do, and so of a piece with the strong preterites, only less altered. The probability of this explanation is heightened by a comparison of the very similar phenomenon among nouns. A few nouns, and those concerning some of the most familiar objects, form their plurals much as the strong verbs form their preterites. Examples:—man, men ; foot, feet; mouse, mice. In the case of the nouns it is very easy to imagine that in the primitive poverty of flexion, plurality might have been expressed (it may also be said that in certain instances at least plurality zvas expressed) by mere repetition of the noun, which is the parent of reduplication. It is not quite so plain a thing to see that any analogy exists between plural number and past time. There may not be any outward logical analogy, and yet there may be an inward mental affinity. But if we leave plurality, and come back to our preterites, we see as a matter of fact that reduplication has been resorted to as a means of expressing past time, in the development both of the Latin and of the Greek verb. Latin instances are didici, poposci, feligi, pepuli. But in Greek the most conspicuous instrument for the expression of past time is reduplication: rérvoba, rérvppai ; tremoimka, tremoimual ; Trémpaxa, Trémpayuat ; reréAeka, reréNeopat.
II. MIXED VERBs.
The second class of verbs are those which may conveniently be called Mixed, because they unite in themselves Something of the features of the first and third classes.
Some philologers would deny them the distinction of being a class at all. They would insist that there are but two principles at work in the verb-flexions; namely, internal change and external addition. And this is the fact. But then, the variety of relations in which two systems are ranged may easily give rise to a third series of conditions. When the sun peers through the foliage of an aged oak, it produces on the ground those oval spots of dubious light which the poet has called a mottled shade. Each oval has its own outline and its own particular degree of luminousness; but where two of them overlap each other a third condition of light is induced. Such an overlapping is this sample of mixed verbs, a compromise between the strong and the weak.
In the formation of the preterite, they suffer both internal vowel-change, and also external addition. They form the participle in T or D. Such are the following:—
PRESENT. PRETERITE. PARTICIPLE. bring brought brought buy bought bought catch caught caught creep crept crept deal delt delt feel felt felt fetch fot - - flee fled fled hear herd herd keep kept kept kneel knelt knelt lean lent lent leap lept lept leave left left lose lost lost Ifean ment ment meet met - met pitch pight - - reach raught raught [reave] reft reft
seek sought sought