Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

6

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

why' and the' wherefore' are relative words applicable to cause; in general, we employ prepositions and nouns, ' by force', 'by cold', 'by persuasion', 'through fear', 'with an axe'.

The stating of Cause is a circumstance of great intrinsic importance as regards the meaning of a composition; but grammatically the interest is confined to the change from the active to the passive form of the transitive verb. In the active voice, the agent is the subject of the verb; in the passive voice, the object comes forward to that position, and the original subject is thrown into an adverbial phrase of

agency. 'I planted that tree'; 'that tree was planted by me'.

[ocr errors]

THE PREPOSITION.

The Classifying of Prepositions does not proceed from any strictly granımatical motive, like the classifying of Nouns, Pronouns, and Verbs. In Greek and Latin, there is a pro. perly grammatical division of prepositions, according to the case that they govern. In English, they all govern one

case.

When, therefore, we divide Prepositions under Place, Time, &c., we do so without any necessity arising out of Grammar. Our purpose is to assist the pupils in knowing the prepositions individually, and in using them according to their proper meanings. Excluding phrases, prepositions are limited in number-under forty; they are incessantly used; and it has become a part of Grammar to teach the different significations of each one of them.

Accordingly, the classification at once takes the shape of a list of uses or meanings; and the same preposition may be entered in several classes.

Prepositions, in their origin, supposed something in motion, and assigned the Direction of the motion : such are still the prominent meanings of 'to', 'from', 'up',

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

down', &c. Rest in a place is expressed as the termination or the arrest of a movement; 'in' and 'on' mean direction first and place afterwards. As we have frequent need for stating position in place without saying by what cause the thing came to the place, we have appropriated certain prepositions to place alone, and have left others with their original meaning of direction. 'In', which in Latin has the two meanings—direction and place, is in English the chief preposition to signify resting quiescent in a given spot: ‘in the house', 'in the British Museum', ‘in Chancery'.

The preposition that most needs to be attended to, as most frequently causing indistinctness, is 'OF'.

Phrases with this preposition are the commonest of all; the reason being its extreme flexibility and vagueness. As already remarked (ADJECTIVE, p. 98), it does little more than state that two words are to be somehow connected or viewed together; the original meaning-proceeding from '-being in most cases wholly abandoned. 'He has come of a good family' is an example of the real meaning; but what trace of that can be discovered in the bridge of sighs', ‘an inspector of schools', a justice of peace', 'the theory of light'?

Owing to this extreme vagueness, the term 'Reference' meaning has been invented. To put'of' between two nouns is scarcely more definite than placing them together without a preposition. From the sighs bridge' we might infer a bridge leading to some dolorous place; we extract no more from the bridge of sighs'. 'A school inspector' is about as suggestive as an inspector of schools'. This last, however, is the form adapted to convert a clause with an active verb—'he inspects schools'-into a phrase where the verb becomes a noun.

The original sense_proceeding from'-is apparent in • the word of God', 'the precepts of Moses', 'a statute of King Henry VIII.', 'the wine of France', 'men of Athens', 'the philosophy of Plato', the beasts of the field', 'the angels of heaven '.

In all these instances the second noun may be regarded as

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

а

[ocr errors]

6

More expres

6

sense.

naming the source of what is named by the first—'a statute emanating from Henry VIII.', 'men proceeding from, born in, Athens.

To ' enquire of' is a clear case of source. sive, however, is 'ascertain from'. * This tastes of garlic' is very remote from the primary

There is just a possibility of assigning the connection.

'He is frugal of his means ', gives no more insight than might be got from “he is means-frugal'.

The following instance looks like a struggle to adhere to the same meaning: ‘Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God' (1 Thessal. i. 4); “your election coming from God, as its source'.

The superlative construction—the first of men, the wisest of kings, the last of the series—may be brought under the same meaning; the wisest that proceeds from the class of kings.

In the phrases—forgetful of, proud of, glad of, ashamed of, regardless of—I see no trace of the original meaning. Possibly these are imitations of Latin constructions with the genitive, which 'of' translates more frequently than any other preposition. Why do we say 'oblivious to'?

However we may explain the transition, 'of' is now chiefly employed in the sense of relating to', and therefore signifies the object or end of an action rather than its beginning or source. “The theory of sound' is not a theory origi. nating in, or emanating from, sound, but a theory directed to, or bearing upon, sound. * The love of God' means, in the first instance, 'love proceeding from God', in the next place, 'love exercised towards God': the second meaning being the more usual. Compare 'the fear of God', which does not admit the first.

To show the range, and the consequent vagueness and ambiguity of this preposition, take the following constructions qualifying the same word 'law': law of God, of the land, of England, of the Scriptures, of honour, of sureties,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of landlord and tenant, of fishings, of mortmain, of primogeniture, and, lastly, of nature.

In some of the instances, the source of the law is indicated, in accordance with the primary meaning of the preposition -law of God, law of the Scriptures' In others the specification is the party brought under the law-sureties, landlord and tenant' *The law of England' contains both meanings-a law emanating from the constituted authorities of England and operating upon the population of England * The law of fishings' does not directly mention the persons coming under the law, but gives the kind of property regulated. The law of primogeniture' mentions the purport or substance of the statute or the regulation imposed,—that in certain kinds of inheritance, the first born (son) succeeds. 'The law of honour' specifies a fact different from any of the foregoing, namely, the sanction, or the means of enforcing the law, that is, by honour and dishonour, instead of fine, imprisonment, or death. The phrase law of nature' is the extreme instance; the ambiguity of the word 'nature' being an aggravation of the latitude accorded to the preposition.

* Have the laws of Induction the same evidence and necessity as the laws of Deduction ?' • Have the laws that govern the process Induction the same evidence and necessity as the laws that govern the process Deduction ?'

6

6

In the following class of cases, we inight consent to drop the 'of'. “The name of the moral sense is not new'; 'the name of steam engine'; 'the epithets of the stony and sandy'. * The name-moral sense', the name-steam engine', 'the epithets-stony and sandy'. The punctuation might be either the dash or inverted commas. Where the word commences with a capital letter, we could do without a stop : The title Cæsar', 'the designation Elector'.

• The town of Hamburg' is literally 'the town named Hamburg'; and might be “the town Hamburg', or • Hamburg town’; but ‘Hamburg' alone ought to be sufficient. The empire of Austria' is a circumlocution for

6

6

6

6

6

6

· Austria', which means the empire. To be sure we may view Austria with reference more specifically to its government, or its territory, or its history; the 'of' would then be correctly used to mean a certain part or portion of Austria.

Dean Alford (The Queen's English, $ 150) very naturally condemns as an affectation the first chapter of the book Genesis' and supposes the practice made consistent in this form: 'I left the city London, and passed through the county Kent, leaving the realm England at the town Dover, and entering the empire France at the town Calais, on my way to the Republic Switzerland'. He should have added, however, that all these words in Italics are unnecessary; and probably not one of them would be given in an actual letter. So we should say the first chapter of Genesis'. If we were to be very formal, we night say the book called Genesis,'; just as we say the Gospel according to St. John' There is a certain propriety in the city of London', as it means only a certain portion of London. There is a familiar usage—Dublin city', 'county Kerry', 'Cork harbour', 'London docks'. We say 'the orator Cicero', 'the courtesan Lais', 'the boy Jones'.

The practice of snuff.taking', 'the vice of idleness ’, “the habit of obedience', 'the state of slavery', 'the complaint of pulmonary consumption' might be also written'the practice--snuff-taking', the vice idleness', 'the habit obedience', 'the state-slavery', 'the state called slavery', the complaint or discase, pulmonary consumption'

The following is curious as showing how far we may be carried by the laxity in using 'of'. 'Father Matthew, in Ireland, effected a reform, once deemed in possible, the reform of Temperance'. In the wide scope given to the preposition, as niere reference, or relation to, this would appear at first sight to be allowable, a reform connected with Temperance, as we might have a reform connected with frugality, with industry, or any other department of men's conduct in matters of good and evil. Yet, we feel that the expression really suggests reforming Temperance itself,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »