Immagini della pagina


But by the cause that they sholde ryse Bot be be cause þat þei sholde rise
Eerly for to seen the grete fight Erly for to seen be grete fighte
Vn to hir reste wenten they at night. Vnto her reste went þei att nighte.
Ellesmere MS.

Lansdowne MS.

In Caxton it appears as by cause :Wherfore by cause thys sayd book is ful of holsom wysedom and requysyte vnto euery astate and degree, I haue purposed to enprynte it.The Game of the Chesse, A.D. 1474 (Preface).

Divested of the old preposition, it is provincially used in the short form of cause. I happen to be able to give an authentic instance. In Ipplepen church there is an inscribed floor-stone, to the memory of two infants, who died in 1683 :

Mourn not for vs dear Relatiues Caus We
So earely left this Vale of Misery.
Blesst Infants soonest to their port arriue,

The aged longer with the stormes do striue. A conjunction formed from the reference of a preposition to a foregoing adverb is

too ... to. I have seen too much of success in life to take off my hat and huzza to it as it passes in its gilt coach.-W. M. Thackeray, Esmond, Bk. I. p. 30.

535. But the great source of conjunctions is the Pronoun. Here the ancient relative pronoun so is one of the most frequent factors, both in its own form and in its compound also; and in as, condensed from also, or rather from EALSWA, i.e. entirely, altogether so, quite in that manner.

In the following line of Chaucer, Prologue 92, we see the second as already mature, while the first is still in the course of formation. We see al and so in various stages of approximation until their final coalition in the form of as. He was al so fresche as is þe monep of Mai.

Lansdowne MS.

He was also fressh as ys be moneth of May.

Petworth MS.
He was als freissch as is pe monß of May.

Corpus MS.
He was as frosch as is the monyth of May.

Cambridge MS.

536. So and as, severally considered, are adverbial pronouns; and it is by their inherent capacity of standing to each other as antecedent and relative that they together constitute a conjunction.

so... as.

With a depth so great as to make it a day's march from the rear to the van, and a front so narrow as to consist of one gun and one horseman.A. W. Kinglake, Invasion of the Crimea, vol. iii. ch. ix.

as ...SO ..

... and so.

As great men flatter themselves, so they are flattered by others, and so robbed of the true judgment of themselves.-R. Sibbs, Soules Conflict, ch. xiv, ed. 1658, p. 201.

The use of as for a conjunctiun-sole is now disallowed, and is in fact one of our standard vulgarisms. It is seen in the familiar saw, "Handsome is as handsome does. Yet this use occurs in the Spectator, No. 508–in the course of a correspondent's letter it is true, but the correspondent is a young lady, and writes like one :

Is it sufferable, that the Fop of whom I complain should say, as he would rather have such-a-one without a Groat, than me with the Indies ?

so ... that.

Rich young men become so valuable a prize, that selection is renounced. -John Boyd-Kinnear, Woman's Work, p. 353.

then = than, A wise man will make better use of an idle pamphlet, then a fool will do of sacred Scripture.—John Milton, Areopagitica.

537. Where, equivalent to whereas:

Where in former times the only remedy for misgovernment real or supposed was a change of dynasty, the evil is now corrected at no greater cost than that of a ministerial crisis. Where in former times serious evils were endured because the remedy was worse than the disease, trivial inconveniences now excite universal complaints and meet with speedy remedy, Where formerly ministers clung to office with the tenacity of despair, and rival statesmen persecuted each other to the death, the defeated premier now retires with the reasonable prospect of securing by care and skill a triumphant return; and both he and his successors mutually entertain no other feelings than those to which an honourable rivalry may give rise. Where formerly every subsidy was the occasion of the bitterest contention, &c.W. E. Hearn, The Government of England, 1867, p. 126.

Whether. The pronominal use of this interesting word is now antiquated, and it is used only as a conjunction:

Whether they wil heare, or whether they will forbeare.—Ezekiel ii. 5. Whether it were I or they.-1 Cor. xv. II.

538. To this same pronominal group belong the twin conjunctions how and why, which are from hwi and hû, two forms of the instrumental case of HwA who. Both forms have been retained, with useful discrimination of meaning. How has acquired a flavour of romance from its often ushering in a narrative: 'us secgað bêc hû ..!! Books tell us how ..: 'gehyrdon hû seo halige spræc,' They heard how the heroine spake. The sister-form why, though best known as an Interrogative Adverb, is also a Conjunction, and one of a fine and cunning fabric. It is especially the conjunction of dialogue and repartee, and may be compared to a certain wreathed action of yáp, well known to those who read Greek. In tone it is slighter than the why of question. The following instances are all from As You Like It, and if the reader seek them, he can hardly fail to light on others in his search :

Orl. Why whither, Adam, would'st thou have me go ?

Orl. Why how now, Adam ?
Jaq. Why 'tis good to be sad and say nothing.
Ros. Why then 'tis good to be a post.

But this exquisite symbol has other uses. In rhetorical argument it is a sort of signal-flag that a conclusion is coming, as

There then; How then ? What then? Let me see wherein
My tongue hath'd wrong'd him: if it do him right,
Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free,
Why then my taxing like a wild goose flies,
Unclaim'd of any man.

539. Of all the elements that go to make conjunctions, none come near the pronouns in importance. Often where other parts of speech get a footing in this office, it has been by pronominal ushering. Thus, in the case of directly, quoted below (541), it is clear that this word originally came in as an adverb to a pronominal conjunction: it was at first directly as' or directly that.'

Of the conjunctions which are of pronominal extraction the so and the as are our Saxon inheritance, whereas the conjunctional use of who, whose, whom, which, what, whence, are French imitations.

In the Latin language, and in those which spring from it, the relative pronoun is the chief conjunction. In French, for example, qui and que play a part which their equivalents in English do not come near. Indeed, the degree in which these relatives act as conjunctions is almost the touchstone of a romanised style. In Latin we everywhere see such sentence-links as the following: qui, quæ, quod, quæ quum ita sint, quo facto, quibus peractis, quod si, quare, quum.

540. We turned who and which from interrogatives into relatives under French influence, as already shewn (472), and then it followed that these words took a place also as

conjunctions, just as the French qui and que do. Moreover, we accepted also the symbol-cases of these words as conjunctions, namely, of whom, to whom, in which, and we began to say, “There is the man to whom I sent you,' “This is the thing of which I spoke’; instead of 'The man I sent you to,' 'The thing I spoke of.' This Romanesque form of speech was well established among us in the seventeenth century, and it still retains its place, though there has been a reaction, which Addison has the credit of.

It often happens that when foreign idioms are admitted into a language, they make awkward combinations with the native material, especially in unskilled hands. So this relative conjunction is always getting into trouble. It is alleged that even the correspondents of first-class newspapers will write and who, and which, and where, inappropriately. Of course there is a position in which such an expression is unimpeachable. If two clauses, each of them beginning with which, have to be combined by and, the second clause will naturally begin with and which. But this will not justify examples like the following:

In the afternoon the Flower Show will be held in the gardens of Worcester College, and at which the band of the Coldstreams will assist;

At night Miss Neilson the well-known actress, and who has obtained in a very short time a considerable reputation as a reader, will give a dramatic reading from the Ingoldsby Legends, Tennyson, &c., in the Clarendon-roons, and where one may expect a crowded audience.

541. Conjunctions from nounal adverbs :

directly. The religious difficulty, directly you come to practice, becomes insignificant.-House of Commons, June 25, 1870.

er, or, ere, Saxon ÆR.

Forsaketh sinne or sinne you forsake.

Canterbury Tales, 12,220.

« IndietroContinua »