Sir Hornboook; or, Childe Launcelot's Expidition

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Now steeper grew the rising ground,
And rougher grew the road,
As up the steep ascent they wound
To bold Sir Verb's abode. 18

Sir Verb was old, and many a year,
All scenes and climates seeing,
Had run a wild and strange career
Through every mode of being.

And every aspect, shape, and change
Of action, and of passion:
And known to him was all the range
Of feeling, taste, and fashion.

He was an Augur, quite at home
In all things present done, 19
Deeds past, and every act to come
In ages yet to run.

Entrenched in intricacies strong,
Ditch, fort, and palisado,
He marked with scorn the coming throng,
And breathed a bold bravado:

--"Ho! who are you that dare invade
My turrets, moats, and fences?
Soon will your vaunting courage fade,
When you on the walls, in lines array'd,
You see me marshal undismay'd
My host of moods and tenses."--20

--"In vain,"--Childe Launcelot cried in scorn,--
--"On them is your reliance;"--
Sir Hornbook wound his bugle horn,
And twange'd a loud defiance.

They swam the moat, they scal'd the wall,
Sir Verb, with rage and shame,
Beheld his valiant general fall,
Infinitive by name.21

Indicative declar'd the foes 22
Should perish by his hand;
And stout Imperative arose, 23
The squadron to command.

Potential and Subjunctive 24 then
Came forth with doubt and chance: 25
All fell alike, with all their men,
Before Sir Hornbook's lance.

Action and Passion nought could do
To save Sir Verb from fate;
Whose doom poor Participle knew, 26
He must participate.

Then Adverb, who had skulk'd behind, 27
To shun the mighty jar,
Came forward, and himself resign'd
A prisoner of war.

Three children of Imperative,
Full strong, though somewhat small,
Next forward came, themselves to give
To conquering Launcelot's thrall.

Conjunction press'd to join the crowd; 28
But Preposition swore, 29
Though Interjection sobb'd aloud, 30
That he would go before.

Again his horn Sir Hornbook blew,
Full long, and loud, and shrill;
His merrymen all, so stout and true,
Went marching up the hill.

18 A verb is a word which signifies to be, to do, or to suffer; as, "I am, I love, I am loved."

19 The two lines in Italics are taken from Chapman's Homer.

20 Verbs have five moods: The indicative, imperative, potential, subjunctive, and infinitive.

21 The infinitive mood expresses a thing in a general and unlimited manner: as, "To love, to walk, to be ruled."

22 The indicative mood simply indicates or declares a thing: as, "He loves:" "he is loved:" or asks a question: as, "Does he love?"--"Is he loved?"

23 The imperative mood commands or entreats: as, "Depart:" "Come hither:"--"Forgive me."

24 The potential mood implies possiblity or obligation: as, "It may rain:"--"They should learn."

25 The subjunctive mood implies contingency: as, "if he were good, he would be happy."

26 The participle is a certain form of the verb, and is so called from participating the nature of a verb and an adjective: as, "he is an admired charcter; she is a loving child."

27 The adverb is joined to verbs, to adjectives, and to other adverbs, to qualify their signification: as, "that is a remarkably swift horse: it is extremely well done."

28 A conjunction is a part of speech chiefly used to connect words: as, "King and constitution;" or sentences: as, "I went to the theater, and saw the new pantomime."

29 A preposition is most commonly set before another word to show its relation to some word or sentence preceding: as, "The fisherman went down the river with his boat." Conjunctions and Prepositions are for the most part Imperative moods of obsolete verbs: Thus, and signifies add: "John and Peter--John add peter:"--"The fisherman with his boat--The fisherman, join his boat."

30 Interjections are words thrown in between the parts of sentence, to express passions or emotions: as "Oh! Alas!"

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