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awkward instances of the old form are most abundant in our literature, there is no fear that the repulsive elaborations which have been worked out in ridicule of the new forms will prove to have been anticipations of future usage. There was a time when, as to their adverbs, people compared them, to a large extent, with er and -est, or with more and most, just as their ear or pleasure dictated. They wrote plainlier and plainliest, or more plainly and most plainly; and some adverbs, as early, late, often, seldom, and soon, we still compare in a way now become anomalous. And as our forefathers treated their adverbs we still treat many adjectives. Furthermore, obligingness, preparedness, and designedly seem quite natural ; yet we do not feel that they authorize us to talk of the seeingness of the eye,' 'the understoodness of a sentence,' or of 'a statement acknowl. edgedly correct.' 'The now too notorious fact' is tolerable ; but the never to be sufficiently execrated monster Bonaparte' is intolerable. The sun may be shorn of his splendor ; but we do not allow cloudy weather to shear him of it. How, then, can any one claim that a man who prefers to say is being built should say has been being built ? Are not awkward instances of the old form, typified by is building, as easily to be picked out of extant literature as such instances of the new form, likely ever to be used, are to be invented? And 'the reformers' have not forsworn their ears. Mr. Marsh, at p. 135 of his admirable Lectures, lays down that 'the adjective reliable, in the sense of worthy of confidence, is altogether unidiomatic'; and yet, at p. 112, he writes 'reliable evidence.' Again, at p. 396 of the same work, he rules that whose, in 'I passed a house whose windows were open,' is ‘by no means yet fully established'; and at p. 145 of his very learned Man and Nature he writes ‘a quadrangular pyramid, the perpendicular

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of whose sides,' etc. Really, if his own judgments sit so very loose on his practical conscience, we may, without being chargeable with exaction, ask of him to relax a little the rigor of his requirements at the hands of his neighbors.

“ Beckford's Lisbon fortune-teller, before had into court, was 'dragging into light,' and, perchance, 'was taking to account.' Many moderns would say and write being dragged into light,' and 'was being taken to account.' But, if we are to trust the conservative critics, in comparison with expressions of the former pattern, those of the latter are 'uncouth,''clumsy,''awkward neologisms,philological coxcombries,' 'formal and pedantic,' 'incongruous and ridiculous forms of speech,' illogical, confusing, inaccurate monstrosities.' Moreover, they are neither 'consistent with reason' nor.conformed to the normal development of the language'; they are ‘at war with the genius of the English tongue'; they are 'unidiomatic'; they are ‘not Eng. lish.' In passing, if Mr. Marsh will so define the term unidiomatic as to evince that it has any applicability to the case in hand, or if he will arrest and photograph 'the genius of the English tongue,' so that we may know the original when we meet with it, he will confer a public favor. And now I submit for consideration whether the sole strength of those who decry is being built and its congeners does not consist in their talent for calling hard names. If they have not an uneasy subconsciousness that their cause is weak, they would at least do well in eschewing the violence to which, for want of something better, the advocates of weak causes proverbially resort.

“I once had a friend who, for some microscopic penumbra of heresy, was charged, in the words of his accuser,

as near an approach to the sin against the Holy Ghost as is practicable to human infirmity.' Similarly, on

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one view, the feeble potencies of philological turpitude seem to have exhibited their most consummate realization in engendering is being built. The supposed enormity perpetrated in its production, provided it had fallen within the sphere of ethics, would, at the least, have ranked with its denunciators as a brand-new exemplification of total de. pravity. But, after all, what incontestable defect in it has any one succeeded in demonstrating? Mr. White, in opposing to the expression objections based on an erroneous analysis, simply lays a phantom of his own evoking; and, so far as I am informed, other impugners of is being built have absolutely no argument whatever against it over and beyond their repugnance to novelty. Subjected to a little untroubled contemplation, it would, I am confident, have ceased long ago to be matter of controversy ; but the dust of prejudice and passion, which so distempers the intellectual vision of theologians and politicians, is seen to make, with ruthless impartiality, no exception of the perspicacity of philologists.

“Prior to the evolution of is being built and was being built, we possessed no discriminate equivalents to ædificatur and ædificabatur ; is built and was built, by which they were rendered, corresponding exactly to ædi ficatus est and ædificatus erat. Cum ædificaretur was to us the same as ædificabatur. On the wealth of the Greek in expressions of imperfect passive I need not dwell. With rare exceptions, the Romans were satisfied with the present-imperfect and the past-imperfect; and we, on the comparatively few occasions which present themselves for expressing other imperfects, shall be sure to have recourse to the old forms rather than to the new, or else to use periphrases.* The

*". But those things which, being not now doing, or having not yet been done, have a natural aptitude to exist hereafter, may be


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purists may, accordingly, dismiss their apprehensions, especially as the neoterists have clearly a keener horror of phraseological ungainliness than themselves. have no hesitation about saying the house is being built,' and may yet recoil from saying that it should have been being built last Christmas'; and the same person—just as, provided he did not feel a harshness, inadequacy, and ambiguity in the passive 'the house is building,' he would use the expression-will, more likely than not, elect is in prepa. ration preferentially to is being prepared. If there are any who, in their zealotry for the congruous, choose to adhere to the new form in its entire range of exchangeability for the old, let it be hoped that they will find, in Mr. Marsh's speculative approbation of consistency, full amends for the discomfort of encountering smiles or frowns. At the same time, let them be mindful of the career of Mr. White, with his black flag and no quarter.

The dead Polonius was, in Hamlet's phrase, at supper, 'not where he eats, but where he is eaten.' Shakespeare, to Mr. White's thinking, in this wise expressed himself at the best, and deserves not only admiration therefor, but to be imitated. While the ark was built,' while the ark was prepared,' writes Mr. White himself.* Shakespeare is commended for his ambiguous is eaten, though in eating or an eating would have been not only correct in his day, but, where they would have come in his sentence, univocal. With equal reason a man would be entitled to commendation for tearing his mutton-chops with his fingers, when he might cut them up with a knife erly said to appertain to the future.'-Harris's Hermes, Book I, chap. viii (p. 155, foot-note, ed. 1771). For Harris's being not now doing, which is to translate min yevóueva, the modern school, if they pursued uniformity with more of fidelity than of taste, would have to put being not now being done. There is not much to choose between the two."

"Words and their Uses,' p. 343."



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and fork. Is eaten,' says Mr. White, 'does not mean has been eaten.' Very true ; but a continuous unfinished passion-Polonius's still undergoing manducation, to speak Johnsonese—was in Shakespeare's mind; and his words describe a passion no longer in generation. The King of Denmark's lord chamberlain had no precedent in Herod, when he was eaten of worms'; the original, yevóuevos OKWANKÓBpwros, yielding, but for its participle, ‘he became worm-eaten.'

Having now done with Mr. White, I am anxious, before taking leave of him, to record, with all emphasis, that it would be the grossest injustice to write of his elegant Life and Genius of Shakespeare, a book which does credit to American literature, in the tone which I have found unavoidable in dealing with his Words and their Uses.”

“A reader in the Hudson Register asks, 'Which is grammatically correct : to say “Boston is burning,” or “ Boston is being burnt,"; "the street is paving,” or “the street is being paved."'?' The editor favors the opinion that is being burnt' and is being paved' are proper. There are good opinions to support the Register in its astute opinion. Suppose you were talking politics, and your friend should say, 'Greeley is beating,' or 'Greeley is being beaten. Now it may not make much difference to the world, but it is a matter that materially affects Mr. Greeley. Again, suppose you wish to express another kind of an idea, would you say, for instance, 'Johnny is spanking,'or ‘Johnny is being spanked'? The difference to you may again seem immaterial, but it is a matter of considerable importance to Johnny; and it is probable that if any choice were given him, he would suddenly select the former alternative. Again, you say, “The missionary is eating,' which is very pleasant for the missionary; but by a little change of syntax, if you say “The

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