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compared with the import of collocation, it may be said almost to count for nothing. The syntax of the English language is therefore at its weakest in this division. We can only collect a few remaining features, which have lived through the collision of the transition period, and have up to the present time defied the innovations of the symbolic movement. We will consider these relics in order, taking first those of the nounal, and afterwards those of the verbal flexion.
Syntax of Nounal Flexion.
572. We have retained the genitive singular of nouns, as “heart's desire * Psalm xx and xxi, ‘Simon's wife's mother’ Luke iv. 38, ‘yesterdayes hunting’ Compleaf Angler (1653) p. 50. Except personal names, this is mostly found in old and set phrases, as ‘money's worth,’ ‘out of harm's way,’ ‘change for change's sake.’
This structure has often an archaic, and sometimes almost a romantic or imposing effect; as when President Lincoln was admiringly called “nature's diplomat '.' There are but few specimens of this type in current use. They have undergone change in two ways. A limited number of them have become compounds, as bondsman, kinsman, sportsman, and others (607): but the wide and general change has been by the substitution of the preposition for the flexion, whereby we no longer speak thus—‘the man's rod whom I shall choose' Mumbers xvii. 5; but thus—‘the rod of the man whom.’
However, we still say “a ship's captain’ and we have not yet followed the French—un capitaine de navire.
* By an American author, Major Jones, the biographer of Charles Sumner. A monument of the transition from the flexional to the phrasal structure is seen in the Double Genitive, a peculiar English combination, where both the of and the s are retained, as ‘that boy of Norcott's '—‘that idea of Palmerston’s.’
In connection with this Genitive there is another remarkable phenomenon, an appearance as of separable flexion. It looks as if the possessival termination had detached itself in the form of es or is, and had then passed into a pronoun by a sort of degeneracy, as in ‘John his book,' and other well-known examples. An original document of the year 1525, by the Prior of Bath, begins thus: “To all true Cristen people to whome this present wrytyng Indentour shall come William Hollowaye by Gode is suffer'nce Priour,’ &c. And again in the same: “As they haue doone in tyme paste whan the saide pastures were in the lorde is handes, Soo that thereby the lorde is owne werkes elles where and woode carriage be nott nestoppede att any tyme.’
This supplies the intermediate step between -es and his ; and the following quotation supplies an example of the sort of structure in which this separable flexion would be felt as a convenience :—
* his. The Cathedrall Churche of Christe in Oxford of Kinge Henry theight
his fowndac'on.-Assignment by John Haryngton to William Blanchard of Catterne, I 594.
I used to be satisfied with this explanation, but renewed travel in the Low Dutch regions has caused me to refer this peculiar structure to a much more remote origin. I now think it was brought from the old mother countries by the original settlers, or some tribe of them. It does not appear in AngloSaxon literature, but it is found as early as the second half of the thirteenth century in the later manuscript
of Layamon's Brut, iii. 285, three times in one page. I quote a single instance:— Inne wes pe uormeste mon Ine was pe forste man pe Peteres peni bigă. pat Peter his peny bigan. Sarai her.
Sarai her name is changed.—Genesis xvii, Contents.
Who when he nigh approcht, shee mote arede
Faery Queene, v. 6.8 (1596).
Zelephus his. When Telephus his youthful charms. Spectator, No. 171. 573. Some genitival phrases we have lost altogether, as for dayes, equivalent in the fifteenth century to far on in the day; and early days, early in the day, which though not extinct, seems now to be regarded as a plural.
Ther was a ladi that duelled fast bi the chirche, that toke euery day so longe tyme to make her redy that it made wery and angri the person of the chirche and the parisshenes to abide after her. And she happed to abide so longe on a sonday that it was fer dayes, and euery man said to other, “This day we trow shall not this lady be kemed and arraied.’— La Tour Landry, ed. T. Wright, ch. xxxi.
Diei multum iam est. Plaut. It is farre dayes.—Thomas Cooper, Latin Dictionary, 1578; v. Dies. early days. "Tis but early dayes.-W. Shakspeare, Troilus and Cressida, iv. 5. 12.
To this group belongs the formula nowadays, written in the fifteenth century now a dayes.
Our adverbial genitive is but a relic, and so it has been during the whole of the present period (435). Indeed it
has never been so strong with us as in German. Perhaps we could not find anywhere in our literature so bold an example of this kind as Luther's stratfé Vauf3 in Acts xvi. 11, where we have ‘with a straight course.’
574. Of pronominal flexion there is but little remaining which really serves any purpose of syntax. The accusatives me, him, her, whom, and the genitive whose, are the chief. In such cases as of me, to him, srom them, it is true that me, him, them, are inflections; but then the relation which they once served to express is now expressed by the preposition. Mine may be regarded as a flexion by an archaeological effort of mind, for it is an old genitive of me. But in its ordinary use there is no call to think of this, for it appears as an adjectival pronoun. When it is so used as to shew a trace of its old genitival extraction, then it is accompanied with a preposition, and so comes under the next division, as ‘That boy of mine.’
We have, however, dative pronouns without the preposition, as in give me, tell him, and in our elder literature more frequently —
That my hand may be restored mee againe.—I Kings xiii. 6. In the following quotation him in the second part is equivalent to the unto him that went before :–
Lend not vnto him that is mightier than thy selfe; for if thou lendest him, count it but lost.—Ecclesiasticus, viii. 12.
In the next quotation we should now say to him :—
Not even a poet in our day could write her for to her in such
Methinks is now written as one word. It consists of me in the dative case, and thinks, an old impersonal equivalent to the Latin videlur, radically connected no doubt with our verb ‘I think,’ ‘he thinks, but quite distinct from it. The distinction is kept up in German between benft the verb of thought, and Dünft of seeming, which is that now before uS.
575. A noted instance of pronominal flexion which we have borrowed from the French, and which has become thoroughly English, though it has long lain under the disapproval of the powers of Latin scholarship, is the use of the objective case in the expressions it is me, it is him.
Again, the effect of the Messiah's coming, supposing Jesus to have been him, William Paley, Evidences, ch. vi.
Latin syntax has almost taught us to think it is I, it is he, the only correct formula". This latter is however a thing of no definite lineage; it is a hybrid between French idiom, which says c'est moi, and Latin scholasticism, which dictates that the substantive verb must have the same case after it as before it. But before all this there was a good old native idiom which ran very close to the real idiom both of Latin and of Greek in regard to this formula. Our pure mother tongue had it thus: I am it, thou art it, he is it, or /t am I, &c.:
Who koude ryme in Englissh proprely
Knight's Tale, 1460.
And the Germans retain with fidelity the family style, with their Šd bin eg, (or ist eg. Let us compare the sister-dialects in John ix. 9 –
* For a lively statement of the case, see Dean Alford, in Queen's English.