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And how like quarter horses, we plunged through the moods and tenses of the verb Love!' Who has forgotten, or who ever can forget, how it went, and we went? I love, loved, have loved, had loved, shall or will love, shall have loved.' On we darted, through the cans, and the coulds, and the mights, of the potential, and the mysterious contingencies of the subjunctive, till we rounded to on the trio of participles that brought up the rear of this marvellous cavalcade of deeds, probable and possible, present, past and future, in the great art and action of loving.
And then, when you came to prepositions, how they puzzled you-how they puzzled us all! Don't you remember the definition? Right hand page, four lines from the top, just before conjunctions, on the threshold of Syntax?
Thus it ran: 'Prepositions are words used to connect words, and show the relation between them;' or, to give little Joe Miller's, or some other little fellow's version, Pep'sition word used c'nect words show 'lation 'tween 'em.' Showed 'relation' did they? And what relation? Blood relation or relation by marriage? And so we puzzled and pondered, and passed it over, and learned the list,' that went like a flock of sheep over a wall, of, to, for, by, with, in.'
And who has forgotten those queer contrivances of conjunctions, that connected and didn't connect; and what a God-send the interjection was, in the midst of the fog, with its oh! ah! and alas! Often had we employed it; we understood, felt, appreciated it.
Then the wonderful process they called Parsing'wonder if they do it yet; when we used to take couplets from the prince of English rhyme, and, a row of little cannibals that we were, there we stood, beneath the unwinking optics of our teacher, and "transposed," alias mutilated, " paraphrased," alias butchered, and every thing but devoured, his immortal lines! Do you not recollect how we disposed of
"In spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
After much science and little sense, the light used to burst upon our bedazzled intellects, about once a winter, that Pope meant to say, and did say, "whatever is right, is right!" Do they dream in the grave? Does the bard sleep peaceful yet?
And where's the boy that sat next, in the grammar class? And the bright-eyed girl, that used to whisper the answer so softly to us, and save our juvenile palms many an acquaintance with the oaken ferulewhere is she? Does she whisper hope and happiness
to any body still? Are her eyes as bright, and her steps as light as of old? Or has Death, that great
bailiff, closed her eyes and set a seal upon her lips? Who knows? Who can tell?
And the old schoolmaster, gray
as long ago as
we can remember "-gray before that-does he teach Grammar still? Is his step as firm, and his eye as steel-like gray as it was wont to be then?
And the ancient schoolma'am, old Miss E., who lived in the yellow house next to the village green, and taught us spelling and etymology; she too is conjured up by the spell of " Old Murray," and we see her looking over those spectacles, as she used to do when she meant to be " awful." One day she " out celibacy, and though 'twas the name of her lonely state-poor old lady!—that circumstance didn't let her into the pronunciation, and "sillybossy," for so she gave it, threw the class into convulsions. Great was her wrath on that memorable day. Two of us were imprisoned beneath the stairs; two were sen· tenced to stand upon one foot, one held in extended hand, Walker's Dictionary-decidedly a great work was that dictionary; and a lad who was desperately 'afraid of the girls,' was set between a bouncing brace of them.
But it wouldn't do. "Sillybossy" would not down, and smothered sounds, chokings, outright laughter, broke forth from every corner, around the perplexed and angry schoolma’am.
Years have fled; the tenant of the old yellow house is doubtless borne away, and “the places that once knew her, shall know her no more for ever."
So much for old Murray' and the memories it has awakened; and beautified by time, I can almost wish myself back again, in the midst of the days when Murray was a terror, and his pages a mystery
But why didn't 'the master' hint, sometime, that we should never be done with the tenses until we were done with time? That the world is full of them? That the world is made of them? That, for the sturdy, iron present tense, full of facts and figures, knocks and knowledge, we must look among the men in middle-life—the diggers and workers of the world; the men who, of all others, have discovered, for the very first time, at forty or forty-five, that the present tense is now; that in the shop, the store, the warehouse, the field-on docks and decks, the real, living present, reigns supreme? That, for the bright, golden, joyous future-full of the tones of silver bells and beating hearts, merry tongues and
merry feet, you must look in our swarming schools, peep beneath little soft blankets, in cradles at firesides, or examine small bundles of white dimity? That we should find the future astride of a rockinghorse; lullabying a wax baby; flying kites, trundling hoops, or blowing penny-whistles? Why didn't he tell us or did he leave that for the poets?—that they who wear the silver livery of Time; that linger tremblingly amid the din and jar of life; whose voices, like a failing fountain, are not musical as of old; that they are the melancholy past?
Why didn't he teach us-or did he leave that for the preachers?-that "cold obstruction" claims all times for its own: glowing action, the present; hope, the future; and memory, the past?
Ah! we have had that to unlearn since. "One future!" Who does not thank God, that, in this world of ours, there are a myriad ?
"I shall be," and "I might have been!" The former the music of youth, sweet as the sound of silver bells; fresh as
"The breezy call of incense-breathing morn;"
the latter, the plaint of age, the dirge of hope, the inscription for a tomb. The one trembles upon thin,