This account of persons will be very intelligible when the following Pastoral Fragment is reflected on:
I love thee, Susan, on my life:
Thou art the maiden for a wife.
He who lives single is an ass;
She who ne'er weds a luckless lass.
It's tiresome work to live alone;
So come with me, and be my own.
We maids are oft by men deceived;
Ye don't deserve to be believed;
You don't—but there's my hand—heigho!
They tell us, women can't say no!
The speaker or speakers are of the first person; those spoken to, of the second; and those spoken of, of the third.
Of the three persons, the first is the most universally admired.
The second is the object of much adulation and flattery, and now and then of a little abuse.
The third person is generally made small account of; and, amongst other grievances, suffers a great deal from being frequently bitten about the back.
The Numbers of pronouns, like those of substantives, are, as we have already seen, two; the singular and the plural.
In addressing yourself to anybody, it is customary to use the second person plural instead of the singular. This practice most probably arose from a notion, that to be thought twice the man that the speaker was, gratified the vanity of the person addressed. Thus,