James McCloskey is one of the greatest grammarians now living. Let's imagine that we could go back in time and test a construction on George Curme, Otto Jespersen, Henry Watson Fowler, and Paul Roberts, all of whom are now deceased. If they cringed at it, would you say that that was just their subjective reaction, and that maybe the construction was perfectly grammatical?
I do not question his renown. What I question is the import of cringeworthiness in a cogent argument grounded in textual evidence and analysis.
I might add that you yourself prefaced your comment with "for what it's worth". In my opinion, relatively little.
Infinitive clauses are different from participial ones. In formal syntax, they do not even belong to the same phrasal category. Let's not compare apples and oranges. You are bound to lead yourself even farther astray.
Your dismissive attitude towards my proposition is of little use to those who, as myself, are here to learn about English syntax. More enlightening, especially from a learned person, would be an explanation as to why such parallels cannot be drawn.
Bad English happens. How can I foreclose on the possibility of its existence in this case? I would be shocked if you could produce a single decent example of what you described as a tendency that has unfortunately been lost in the present. But it is possible that some author somewhere experimented thus.
Going back to the nominative construction in hand:
My continued research is indeed leading me to increasingly doubt the soundness of Curme's assertion. I have been combing through works from the 1200s onwards, and I am most certainly not observing Curme's said "tendency" to use the nominative case (evidenced by nominative-case pronouns) when the construction appears as the subject of a clause.
So far in this thread, we have seen proof of two specific constructs of interest (examples from above; I apologise if this overview seems tedious and/or superfluous, but I find it helpful for my own analysis/investigation):
(1) the so-called "nominative" (??) absolute in subject clauses:
(a) "...but my reasons are that people seeing me speak to him causes a great deal of teasing." (p. 262 in Journal to Stella)
(b) "But things being as they are makes other things, which would have been different otherwise, different from what they would have been." (p. 275 of The Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh (1879-1922))
The nominative, however, remains questionable given that we cannot prove these nouns are in the said case.
(2) the nominative absolute with nominative-case pronouns in adverbial clauses:
(a) "With that he made off up the sliding deck like a squirrel, and plunged into the cabin. About half an hour later he returned – I still lying as he had left me." (The Master of Ballantrae by R. L. Stevenson (1889))
(b) "Tina might have told her mother this, during one of their evenings of
confidences, but it had never occurred to her, she being neither proud nor
ashamed of it, nor even thinking it very out of the ordinary." (King Solomon Carpet by Barbara Vine (1992))
However, we still lack evidence of nominative-case pronouns being used as the subject of the so-called "nominative" absolute construction when the said construction appears as the subject of a clause.
Of Curme's numerous examples under Nominative Absolute in Subject Clauses, only one referenced example (the other two, shall we say, "candidates" with nominative-case pronouns lacking references...) includes a pronoun:
"...and ye thus doing bynds me to doe you as great a pleasure..." (p. 215 in the Plumpton Correspondence (1515))
However, "ye", as I found out in my Oxford, came to be used in the 15th century as an objective singular and plural (equivalent to "thee" and "you").
Moreover, whilst lost in my research surrounding this example, I noted the following:
F. Th. Visser includes this example twice in An Historical Syntax of the English Language. The first time, on p. 1099 (§ 1039), he cites Curme himself (i.e. "...and ye thus doing bynds me...") when discussing the -ing form as subject (as an aside, I worked my way through all the examples (from 1200 onwards) and found no instance of nominative-case pronouns. Instead, the examples were either "bare" or accompanied by a possessive determiner).
The second time, however (see § 1104 on p. 1185), he bypasses Curme and, as myself, seems to have consulted the Plumpton Correspondence directly/as a primary source. Except, his second version reads: "...and ye thus doing shall bind me, to my litle power, to do you pleasure."
This provides food for thought. Visser cites the very same page and, judging from the surrounding text in the example, the very same letter. I have consulted every edition of the Plumpton Correspondence available online as well as the work entitled The Plumpton Letters and Papers (edited by Kirby (1996); see Letter 219 on p. 198: "& ye thus doyng, bynds me to doe you as great a pleasure"), and yet I cannot find this last version employing "shall" (apart from in Visser's work). The "correction" nevertheless hints at what David noted above: that is, the construction seems to sit uncomfortably in subject position with a pronoun. "Ye...shall" being more common than "ye...bynds", the use of "shall" provides a remedy of sorts. Who made this modification, though, remains a mystery.
To bring this long post to a close:
Ample (though clearly not exhaustive) research has led to no instances of
nominative-case pronouns being used as the subject of the so-called "nominative" absolute construction when the said construction appears as the subject of a clause.
This finding calls into serious question Curme's claim that "the absolute nominative serves as the logical subject of the [participial] clause". As far as I can see, David is right: there was never a tendency to use the nominative.
So, my conclusion is that Curme was in fact mistaken. Case closed.