Page images

and prove them such, from their use in the following sentences :

“Man is endowed with faculties which enable him not only to recollect the past, but also to anticipate the future.”

The genius of Watt discovered the means of multiply, ing our national resources to a degree perhaps even beyond his own powers of calculation.”

“ The mode in which the animal body is nourished is well deserving of our attention."

“When subjected to the ills which flesh is heir to, what is there to uphold our spirit but the discoveries of Revelation?"

Impose on me whatever hardships you please. Give me nothing but the bread of sorrow to eat; take from me the friends in whom I had placed my confidence; lay me in the cold hut of poverty, and on the thorny bed of disease; set death before me in all its terrors,—do all this, only let me trust in my Saviour, and pillow my head on the bosom of Omnipotence, and I will fear no evil. I will rise superior to affliction: I will rejoice in my tribulation. But let infidelity interfere between God and my soul, and how shall I bear up cheerfully under the burden of distress ?”

Mention such of the adverbs in the foregoing sentences as admit of comparison, and compare them. Classify all the adverbs of the foregoing sentences. Mention all the nouns therein. What sort of nouns are they? State their gender and number. Mention all the adjectives. Compare them, and decline such as admit of declension. Mention the pronouns. Classify and decline them. Mention the verbs, and state their mood and tense.

[merged small][ocr errors]

THE preposition is like the adverb, in that it cannot of itself form any of the essential parts (subject, copula, predicate) of a proposition, but requires to be combined with another word or words in order to form a part thereof. It is so far unlike the adverb, as that the words with which it enters into combination do not belong to the same class as those with which the adverb combines. Brightly is an adverb. We say, “The sun shines brightly,” where brightly enters into combination with the verb shines. From is a preposition ; it will not enter into combination with a verb, nor an adjective, nor an adverb. From, and words similar thereto, will combine with nouns and pronouns alone. Hence the definition of a preposition is, that “ It is a word which becomes part of a proposition in combination with a noun or pronoun.”

In nearly all languages, a preposition, entering into combination with a noun or pronoun, is placed before such noun or pronoun; as, “ She came from London.” Hence the name of this class, from pre= before, and positus =placed.

Prepositions shew the relation between things, or point out where things are said to be. In the sentence, “ The plague raged in the city,” in is a preposition ; it shews where the plague was—the plague in the city raged—that is, it connects the nouns plague and city. From this function, certain old grammarians called such words pegs or pins, a name conveying more of the essential characteristics of this class than the term preposition, which merely indicates its position in the sentence. In the expression, “My hand is under the table," under is the preposition, or pin or peg which fastens together, and thus unites, the hand and table.

The great peculiarity whereby the preposition is at once detected is, that it requires a noun or pronoun immediately after it to complete the sense, and this want the ear at once perceives. In the expression, " The horse leaped into," there is evidently such want; and, to make a full sense, the ear detects the necessity of some noun after into denoting the place into which the leap was made, as into the meadow. Hence into is without difficulty concluded to be a preposition., Several words, it is laid down by grammarians, are used, sometimes as adverbs and sometimes as prepositions; they are adverbs when not necessarily followed by a noun--prepositions when they are. It is a question, however, of some interest, and admitting of some discussion, whether all words do not properly belong, under every variety of position, to the same class; and whether the apparent diversity of class of the same words does not arise, in the great number of instances, from the tacit understanding established amongst men that it is sufficient to use words, and allowable to abbreviate expressions, in such a way as to express clearly what is meant. Two men, for instance, standing, one in a boat, and the other on a landing-place adjacent,-it will be sufficient for the one in the boat to say, “ Will you come in ?” to convey himself intelligibly to the other. Here in is evidently no adverb, but a contracted form of the preposition into, which requires after it the noun boat, rendered unnecessary in expression, but not in sense, from the circumstance of the case, and the habit in which the ear has been practised of hearing such abbreviations. In like manner we say, “Get on,” where on evidently connects the individual addressed with the course or path which he is exhorted to commence. So “ Cut through,” “ Pass by,” “Go before,” &c. &c., are expressions capable of a similar explanation.

The following is a list of the prepositions in most general use:about at for

throughout above before from

to across behind in

towards aiter below into

under against besides instead of underneath along beside of

unto amid between

up amidst betwixt


upon among beyond out of

with amongst by


within around down

through without

[ocr errors]




OBSERVATIONS ON THE PREPOSITION. 1. Combinations of words are used as prepositions ; as, up-on, round-about, instead-of, along-side-of, and several of the words in the foregoing list. Such expressions are easily explained by their analysis. In the expression, “ He placed his ship along-side of the enemy," along-side-of is a compound preposition, connecting the words ship and enemy. The analysis of this word is at the long side of, and the sense is, “ He placed his ship in such a position that she lay at the entire (long) side of the enemy."

In the expression, “ I heard no one speak besides Demosthenes,"' besides is a preposition, connecting no one and Demosthenes; and the analysis is, “ I heard no one speak in such a position as to be at the side of Demosthenes.” The word besides, connecting two prepositions, is explained on the same principle.

2. Care should be taken not to class till, until, since, &c. &c., among the prepositions. Nothing can be more unphilosophical than to call till, in the expression “I did not see him till yesterday," a preposition, merely because the noun yesterday follows it. Such a view goes no further than the surface, yesterday being evidently a noun, the subject of the verb came, or some such word understood; and till, an adverb of time, resolvable into the compound prepositional phrase, “ Up to the time at which.”

3. In the expression, “I will not let thee go until thou bless me," no respectable grammarian would call until a preposition, but rather an adverb resolvable as above. In the chapter on the classification of words, it was said to be of little importance comparatively under what classes words were reduced, provided a thorough understanding of their meaning and usage were arrived at. It is well, however, if words are to be classed at all, that they should be classed properly, and not according to the view presented on the surface by the position they may happen to occupy in certain abbreviations and conventionalisms. It has been suggested, moreover, in this dissertation on the preposition, that all words, if their meaning and functions were properly looked into, may possibly be classed, in all varieties of position, under the same head. Of the truth of this theory, the word since, referred to in Observation 2, affords, as far as it goes, an illustration. In the sentence, “I did not see him since yesterday,” since appears to be of a class altogether different from since in the following, “ I did not go, since you told me I should not find you at home.” In the first expression, since evidently refers to time; in the last, it expresses a cause why the act did not take place spoken of previously. And yet no two things can be more identical than the meanings and powers of the word since in both sentences; the since of the latter being resolvable

into “from the time at which ;” and the act of not going, 80 to speak, is spoken of as lasting throughout the time included between the time of being told, &c. &c., and the time of the assertion,“ I did not go ;' and so the reason of not going, expressed by since, and the time of not going, expressed by since, play into each other—in other words, the time and the cause are expressive each of the other, as in the following sentence will appear more clearly :“Israel has never regained her position as nation since she filled up the measure of her sins," wherein the cause of her not regaining, &c. &c., and the entire time throughout which the effect of such cause is witnessed, have an evident connection, and so are expressible by one and the same particle.

4. Except, frequently laid down amongst the prepositions, is manifestly a verb in the imperative or other mood, having for its subject I, or thou, or ye, according to circumstances; as in the expression," No one, except Alexander, would have dared such things,” wherein the subject of except is I, or thou, or ye, indiscriminately.

5. Of the words during, biding, notwithstanding, &c. &c., notice will be taken in that part of syntax which will treat of the case absolute.

6. Prepositions, as well as a literal or natural sense, have also a non-literal or figurative sense.

Under is a preposition. We say,

“The horse is placed under his load,” wherein under is used in the natural sense to connect the words horse and load together ; the load acting as an impediment to the horse in his attempt at going forward, we use the word under in a figurative sense, to express an obstacle in the way of men in the attempt to do what they like, and

say, “A man is under a master;" “He labours under great difficulties," &c. &c.

7. Be, for, mis, un, dis, &c. &c., as in the words bestride, forgive, misdirect, unnatural, disobey, have been called inseparable prepositions, from the fact of their being always used in composition with other words. The particles in question, and the words with which they are used, form compound words; but why the particles simply should be denominated prepositions, is a question difficult of solution.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »