maxim, and one, too, that explains itself, is impressed upon the mind very soon after its first introduction to letters: as,
"Who kill'd Cock Robin?
I said the sparrow.
With my bow and arrow;
I kill'd Cock Robin."
Of the neglect of this rule also, the ballad lately mentioned presents an instance: as,
"Four-and-twenty brisk young fellows
Clad in jackets, blue array,—
And they took poor Billy Taylor
From his true love all avay."
The only verb in these four lines is the verb took, which is governed by the pronoun they. The four-and-twenty brisk young fellows, therefore, though undeniably in the nominative, have no verb to belong to: while, at the same time, whatever may be thought of their behavior to Mr. William Taylor, they are certainly not absolute in point of case.
When a verb comes between two nouns, either of which may be taken as the subject of the affirmation, it may agree with either of them: as, "Two-and-six-pence is half-a-crown." Due regard, however, should be paid to that noun which is most naturally the subject of the verb: it would be clearly wrong to say, "Ducks and green peas is a delicacy." "Fleas is a nuisance."
A nominative case, standing without a personal tense of a verb, and being put before a participle, independently of the rest of the sentence, is called a case absolute: as, "My brethren, to-morrow being Sunday, I