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“And every effect doth after a sort contain, at leastwise resemble, the cause from which it proceedeth.’—Richard Hooker, Of the Laws &c. I. v. 2; also id. II. iv. 3.
at no hand.
“And in what sort did these assemble? In the trust of ther owne knowledge, or of their sharpenesse of wit, or deepenesse of iudgment, as it were in an arme of flesh? At no hand. They trusted in him that hath the key of Dauid, opening and no man shutting; they prayed to the Lord.”—The Translators to the Reader, 1611.
THE LINK-WORD GROUP.
I borrow the title of this chapter from Mr. Thring's Grammar, though I somewhat vary the scope of the term ‘Link-word’ by comprising within it both prepositions and conjunctions. I know not of any happier term to comprise that vague and flitting host of words which, starting forth from time to time out of the formal ranks of the previous parts of speech to act as the intermediaries of words and sentences, are commonly called Prepositions and Conjunctions.
These two parts of speech have a certain fundamental identity, combined with a bold divergence in which they appear as perfectly distinct from one another. Their distinction is based on the definition that prepositions are used to attach nouns to the sentence, and conjunctions are used to attach sentences or to introduce them.
The neutral ground on which they meet, and where no such discrimination is possible, is in the generic link-words and, or, also, for, but.
I. OF PREPositions.
The preposition may be defined as a word that expresses the relation of a noun to its governing word. A few examples must suffice for the illustration of a class of words so familiarly known and so various in their shades of signification. The examples will be mostly of the less common uses, as we shall consider the common uses to be present to the mind of the reader; the object being to suggest to the reader's mind the almost endless variety of shades of which prepositions are susceptible. First, the prepositions of the simpler and mostly elder sort.
‘Full semyly aftir hir mete she raughte.’
“The vintners were made to pay licence duties after a much higher scale than that which had obtained under Ralegh.”—Edward Edwards, Ralegh (1868), ii. p. 23.
Ballad Society, vol. i. p. 244.
“I think he will consider it a right thing by Mrs. Grant as well as by Fanny.” Where we should now say ‘as regards Mrs. Grant, or ‘as far as Fanny is concerned.’
By having originally meant about, acquired in various localities, notably in Shropshire, a power of indicating the knowledge of something bad about any person, insomuch that “I know nowt by him ' is provincially used for ‘I know no harm of him.’ And it is according to this idiom that our version makes St. Paul witness of himself, ‘I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified’; and the expression occurs more than once in the curious book from which the following is quoted:—
“Then I was committed to a darke dungeon fifteene dayes, which time they secretly made enquiry where I had lyen before, what my wordes and behauiour had beene while I was there, but they could find nothing by me.' —Webbe, bis trauailes, 1590.
This preposition is now mostly used as the instrument of passivity:—
“It is not unqualifiedly true that the rose would smell as sweet by any other name, at least not the doctrine which that famous expression is used to assert. We do feel the pleasure enhanced when, in a beautiful spot, we find that that spot has been the theme of praise by men of taste in many generations.”—H. C. Robinson, Diary, 1837.
where the parentheses have the unusual signification of throwing the enclosed words into a composite lump to make a noun under the government of the preposition outside. It is equivalent to ‘except on-this-day.'
“And who but Rumour, who but onely I.’
‘Ye shal be slayne in all the coastes of Israel, I wil be avenged of you: to lerne you for to knowe, that I am the LoRDE.’—Ezechiel xi. 10. (1535).
“If wee will descend to later times, wee shall finde many the like examples of such kind, or rather vnkind acceptance. The first Romane Emperour did neuer doe a more pleasing deed to the learned, nor more profitable to posteritie, for conseruing the record of times in true supputation; then when he corrected the Calender, and ordered the yeere according to the course of the Sunne: and yet this was imputed to him for noueltie, and arrogancie, and procured to him great obloquie. So the first Christened Emperour (at the leastwise that openly professed the faith himselfe, and allowed others to doe the like) for strengthening the Empire at his great charges, and prouiding for the Church, as he did, got for his labour the name Pupillus, as who would say, a wastefull Prince, that had neede of a Guardian, or ouerseer. So the best Christened Emperour, for the loue that he bare vnto peace, thereby to enrich both himselfe and his subjects, and because he did not seeke warre but find it, was iudged to be no man at armes, (though in deed he excelled in feates of chiualrie, and shewed so much when he was prouoked) and condemned for giuing himselfe to his ease, and to his pleasure."—The Translators to the Reader, 1611.
“Out of that great past he brought some of the sterner stuff of which the martyrs were made, and introduced it like iron into the blood of modern religious feeling.’—J. C. Shairp, jobn Keble, 1866.
Of is the most frequent preposition in the English language. Probably it occurs as often as all the other prepositions put together. It is a characteristic feature of the stage of the language which we call by distinction English, as opposed to Saxon. And this character, like so many characters really distinctive of the modern language, is French. Nine times out of ten that of is used in English it represents the French de. It is the French preposition in a Saxon mask. The word of is Saxon, if by “word' we understand the two letters o and /, or the sound they make when pronounced together. But if we mean the function which that little sound discharges in the economy of the language, then the ‘word’ is French at least nine times out of ten.
Where the Saxon of was used, we should now mostly employ another preposition, as
“Alys us of yfle.'
Deliver us from evil.
The following from the Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 894, shows one place where we should retain it, and one where we should change it:—
* Ne cóm se here oftor eall ute of “The host came not all out of baem setum ponne tuwwa. opre sipe the encampment oftener than twice:
hie aerest to londe comon. aer once when they first to land came, Sio fierd gesamnod ware. opre sipe ere the “fierd' was assembled: once ba hie of paem setum faran wol- when they would depart from the don.’ encampment.’