H.W. Fowler (1858–1933). The King’s English, 2nd ed. 1908.
Chapter II. Syntax
THE PERFECT INFINITIVE
THIS has its right and its wrong uses. The right are obvious, and can be left alone. Even of the wrong some are serviceable, if not strictly logical. I hoped to have succeeded, for instance, means I hoped to succeed, but I did not succeed, and has the advantage of it in brevity; it is an idiom that it would be a pity to sacrifice on the altar of Reason. So:
Philosophy began to congratulate herself upon such a proselyte from the world of business, and hoped to have extended her power under the auspices of such a leader.—Burke.
But other perfects, while they are still more illogical than these, differ as little in meaning from the present as the deposuisse, dear to the hearts of elegiac writers ancient and modern, differs from deponere. And whereas there is at least metre, and very useful metre, in deposuisse, there is in our corresponding perfect infinitive neither rhyme nor reason. Thus,
With whom on those golden summer evenings I should have liked to have taken a stroll in the hayfield.—Thackeray.
To have taken means simply to take; the implication of nonfulfilment that justified the perfects above is here needless, being already given in I should have liked; and the doubled have is ugly in sound. Similar are
If my point had not been this, I should not have endeavoured to have shown the connexion.—Times.
The less excusable that Bagehot has started with the correct to be.
Another very common form, still worse, occurs especially after seem and appear, and results from the writer's being too lazy to decide whether he means He seems to have been, or He seemed to be. The mistake may be in either verb or both.
[Repudiating the report of an interview] I warned him when he spoke to me that I could not speak to him at all if I was to be quoted as an authority. He seemed to have taken this as applying only to the first question he asked me.—Westminster Gazette. (seems)
Sometimes have is even transferred from the verb with which it would make sense to the other with which it makes nonsense.
On the point of church James was obdurate... He would like to have insisted on the other grudging items.—Sladen.
In the next, the perfect is wanted; for a child that has been flogged cannot be left unflogged—not, that is, in the past; and the future is not meant.
A child flogged left-handedly had better be left unflogged.—Poe.
We add, for the reader's refreshment rather than for practical purposes, an illustration of where careless treatment of have may end:
Oh, Burgo, hadst thou not have been a very child, thou shouldst have known that now, at this time of day—after all that thy gallant steed had done for thee—it was impossible for thee or him.—Trollope.
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