« IndietroContinua »
terial is entirely copied from the Romance languages. It will not be necessary to take up space with displaying the same fact throughout the pronouns of the second and third person. It will be obvious to any one who has acquired the elements of the Gothic and Romance languages, that the example applies to those cases, and to a great many others which we leave to the young philologer to explore for himself.
The observations which have been made upon the previous pronouns apply also here. The paucity of the modern forms is more marked here, because three out of the four are restricted in use. The genitives thin and eower have disappeared as such, but they retain a place as adjectival pronouns, namely, thine and your. Here also, as in the case of the first pronoun, the blanks which the English column exhibits are supplied by a method of expression which we have learned from the French.
If you go through this old declension word by word, seeking in each case the modern equivalent, you will find that only three of its members are still perfectly living. They are those which are marked with an asterisk. I call a given word living, not when the mere form is extant, but when that form retains the animating function of the original word. In such a comparison we need not notice the changes of shape, when a word is known to be the same. Thus the difference of spelling between the words hire and her is insignificant. But the difference of function must be rigorously weighed, or we shall let the most important distinctions slip unvalued through our fingers.
For this reason I have excluded the genitive case singular neuter, as being now a dead language to us. The neuter his no longer exists, except in old literature. It has entirely disappeared, and does not even remain in the discharge of any partial or local function. Instances of its use are abundant in Shakspeare and our Bible; as
• They came vnto the yron gate that leadeth vnto the citie, which opened to them of his owne accord,'-Acts xii. 10.
Equally extinct is him, the dative neuter. But the masculine and feminine of these cases linger on with a thin and meagre function. The his, hire of the genitive are not indeed quite, but almost entirely represented and superseded by of him and of her. The his and her with which we are most familiar are no longer genitive cases of a substantival pronoun; they have long ago become adjectival words, and they are designated in Grammars as possessives. But as this does not quite shut out an occasional use of his, her, which is identical with that of Saxon times, I have marked these words with a dagger in the declension, to indicate partial continuity with the present English. And as to the two dative forms, which are also marked as partially surviving in our modern speech, their thread of identical vitality is very attenuated. Not once in a thousand times when him or her appear as substantivepronouns, are they to be identified with this dative. We have it in such a rare instance as this:
So they sadled him the asse.'—1 Kings xiii. 13.
And this is not modern English: we should now say they saddled for him. The sort of instance in which the dative him is still in familiar use, is such as this: 'I gave him sixpence.'
Here, as in other cases, the influence of the little words of and to have come in, through imitation of the French, to give quite a new character to our declension of the pronoun.
Now here would be the place to speak of the reflexive pronoun, if we had such a thing. But we lost it at a very early period, insomuch that it is only by a stretch of our field that we can regard it as coming within our view at all. This early deciduousness of our reflex pronoun is a peculiar feature of our language. In the sister languages it flourishes without sign of decay. Of course we have in some sort
supplied the vacant place, but we can hardly be said to have formed another distinctively reflex pronoun. We make it by adding self to the words him, her, them, and so we get himself, herself, themselves, instead of the common-gender sich of both numbers, which the German retains, and whereby it reminds us of what we have lost 1. The latest surviving form of it in our language having been adjectival, we shall return to this subject in the next section.
Here we have to call attention to the fact that, our reflex pronoun having perished, the pronoun of the third person he, she, it, &c. performed for a long period the double office of a direct and of a reflex pronoun.
And he tooke vnto
• And Elisha said vnto him, Take bowe and arrowes. him bowe and arrowes.'—2 Kings xiii. 15.
If we compare the Dutch version we shall find a distinction where our version has unto him in different senses :
• Ende Elisa seyde tot bem : Neemt eenen boge ende pijlen: ende hy nam tot sich eenen boge ende pijlen.'
In the following verses we have them reflexively :
• And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
• And they set them vp images and groues in euery high hill, and vnder euery greene tree.'—2 Kings xvii. 9, 10.
But later in the same chapter we find themselves :
“So they feared the Lord, and made vnto themselues of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.'—ver. 32.
Strictly speaking, it was the establishment of one old reflexive pronoun to the exclusion of another. Self is very ancient in this use, as may be seen by its frequency in the Icelandic and German.
Thus, in the sermon preached at the funeral of Bishop Andrewes, we read
• The unjust judge righted the importunate widow but out of compassion to relieve him.'-Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology, Andrewes, v. 274. The last word corresponds, not to the Latin eum, but to se, and the modern rendering of the passage would be: “The unjust judge righted the importunate widow only out of compassion to (relieve) himself.'
We have seen that the plural of himself is themselves, but we have not yet seen how the word them had found its way into the circle of our personal pronouns. How recently it has acquired that position will readily be appreciated by a glance at the following brief conspectus of these pronouns as they appear before verbs in some of the most important sister-languages :
The pronoun of the second person singular is lost in Dutch; it is reserved as the pronoun of familiarity in German, while in English it is used only towards God. This is not peculiar to English, but a feature which the Germans retain as well as we. I
say retain,' in the sense of engaging foreign aid, because I do not think it a national product, but a result of religious conditions. The two great Bible-translating nations have naturally, in their veneration for the words of Scripture, made this Hebrew idiom their