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In English both modes are used.' (Marsh, Origin and History of the English Language, pp. 45–48.)
141. The Germans can place their genitive before or after the noun on which it depends. They can say, Gottes Gnade, 'God's grace,' and die Liebe Gottes, literally the love God's,' for “God's love, or the love of God.' But in English we have not the power of placing the possessive immediately after the governing noun: we may say, 'this work is Cicero's;' but not this is a work Cicero's.'
And yet we can say, 'this is a play of Shakespeare's.' I have sometimes suspected that this phrase has resulted from an amalgamation of the two idioms; and that our grammarians, finding the anomaly in existence, have turned it to use, and put a new meaning upon it. For they explain the phrase as signifying a play of Shakespeare's plays;' that is, one of the plays written by Shakespeare.' As they correctly remark, we may say, 'a son of your’s,' but not a father of your's; for a man may have several sons, but he can have only one father. And thus they distinguish'a bust of Cicero,' that is, a bust representing Cicero,' from a bust of Cicero's,' meaning one of the busts in the possession of Cicero.'
I believe that this distinction, however ingenious, is an after thought; and that the form has arisen from a mixture of two constructions.
142. In older English we find a genitive of juxta-position : so Chaucer says, of the Knight,
He never yit no vilonye ne sayde
Canterbury Tales, Prologue, 70. that is, to any manner of person.' And so again, 'a manere serjeant,' that is, “a kind of servant.'
This is the usual idiom in Welsh, in which language there is no case-ending to mark the genitive.
In the phrases 'for conscience' sake,' 'for righteousness' sake,' it is usual to employ a mark of apostrophe. Those who are curious in minute points may inquire whether the mark is necessary.
It might be argued that the word 'conscience' acquires, by position, the force of a genitive case; just as in composition we say the house-top' for the house's-top.' In composition sometimes the form in -s is used, and sometimes not; as
wolf's-bane wolf's poison.
143. In some instances, we find the preposition of used, where we might expect a noun in apposition; as "The city of Rome' for • The city Rome,' Urbs Roma.
We may term this the apposition genitive. We find it used, 1. In geographical descriptions: as,
The city of London.
The borough of Wigan. But we are not consistent; for we say, 'The river Thames,' not . The river of Thames;' and · The Hill of Howth,' but Mount Lebanon.' 2. In descriptions of persons or things: as,
A rogue of an attorney.
A rag of an umbrella. We employ this second construction chiefly in a humorous or satirical sense; but in Welsh the construction is idiomatic, and employed generally. Thus Rowland tells us, (Welsh Grammar, § 411) two nouns are set in apposition by means of the preposition o. (of '), when the one describes the character, occupation, &c. of the other; and when one of them may be converted into an adjective, or, in fact, frequently omitted ; thus gwr o brophwyd, ' a man of a prophet,' is equivalent to gwr prophwydol, 'a man prophetic,' or simply prophwyd, 'a prophet.'
I do not venture to say that this idiom has come in from the Welsh ; but I certainly think that the British element in our history and our language demands more careful attention than it has yet received.
144. We have, then, five constructions of the genitive case in English:
1. The form in 's : Milton's poem.
an old noun, signifying a 'multitude'). 5. By apposition: The city of Paris. Compare the French, La ville de Paris.
145. With regard to meaning we observe that the genitive has a double force.
1. The subjective genitive, as it is termed, indicates some quality of the noun on which it is dependent; and as, among other qualities, it denotes possession, this kind of genitive has given rise to the term possessive case, and is generally expressed in Englisle by the form 's; as the master's house.
2. The objective genitive expresses the object of some feeling or action. It is commonly rendered in English by the preposition of;' as the love of fame;' the pursuit of wealth. In fact, if the governing noun were turned into a verb, the objective genitive would be turned into the objective (or accusative) case. For example, he has a love of fame' is equivalent to "he loves fame.' Sometimes the same relation is expressed by other prepositions : as “longing for rest,' remedy for pain,'' love to virtue.'
146. As the form in 's, called the possessive case, chiefly denotes possession, its use is generally limited to words denote persons or living beings : as,
The master's house.
The lion's mouth. But in older English, and in poetry, the form is often applied to words denoting things or abstract notions : as,
The house's beauty.
Macbeth, i. 6. 147. When a compound name is used, the final word alone takes the termination 's : as, “the Bard of Lomond's Lay'
If two nouns used in apposition are thrown into the genitive case, and if the principal noun comes last, that noun alone takes the termination 's : as, For thy servant David's sake.
Psalm cxxxii. 10. But when the principal noun comes first, and the apposition noun follows, we find diversity of usage. Some would employ the form 's with the last word: as,
1. I bought it at Tonson the bookseller's. Others would prefer :
2. I bought it at Tonson's the bookseller.
While others would repeat the form with each word: as,
3. I bought it at Tonson's the bookseller's. The first and third examples are the most defensible in theory; for in the first case, we may regard Tonson the bookseller' as oi compound term ; and the 's follows regularly at the end. In the third case, we have an ordinary instance of apposition.
But the second case, though the least defensible in theory, is the most convenient in instances where two or more words in apposition follow the principal possessive : as,
I bought it at Tonson's, the bookseller and stationer. 148. When two possessives are used, coupled by the conjunction and, we have to consider whether the governing noun applies to them jointly or severally. 1. If the governing noun applies to the possessives jointly,
it is sufficient to affix the form 's to the final possess sive :
William and Mary's house.
The King and Queen's marriage. 2. But when the governing noun applies to the posses
sives severally, the form 's should be attached to each :
The Parliament's and the King's forces ap
proached each other.
The work ras neither Cicero's nor Seneca's. So, too, when any words intervene, throwing a pause upon the first possessive, the form 's should be used in both instances : as,
These are William's, as well as Mary's books. 149. The construction involving the form which we call the 'infinitive, or gerund in -ing' demands careful consideration. Take, for example:
What is the meaning of this lady's holding up her fan ?
you may avoid mistakes. Some grammarians call this form in -ing a Gerund; others a Participle; and others, a Verbal, or a Verbal Substantive.
Dr. Lowth says (English Grammar, p. 125):—'The participle with an article before it, and the preposition of after it, becomes a substantive, expressing the action itself which the
verb signifies; as, “ These are the rules of Grammar by the observing of which you may avoid mistakes.” Or it may be expressed by the participle or gerund ; “ by observing w
which; not,“ by observing of which ; " nor,“ by the observing which; for either of those two phrases would be a confounding of two distinct forms.'
He then states the principle on which this rule is founded : a word which has the article before it, and the possessive preposition of after it, must be a noun ; and if a noun, it ought to follow the construction of a noun, and not have the regimen of a verb.'
But Dr. Lowth seems to confound a noun with a substantive;' the infinitive mood of a verb may be used substantively, yet without losing its powers as a verb. Beside, the prefixing of the article does not turn any part of a verb into a substantive; but, on the contrary, because it is used substantively, it is capable of taking the article. Hence all the four forms may be defended :
1. by observing which.
4. by the observing which. 1. We have the simple infinitive, or gerund, governing the
objective which.' 2. The infinitive, with the article, is used substantively,
and followed by the genitive, of which.' 3. The infinitive, without the article, is used substantively,
and followed by the genitive, of which.' 4. The infinitive is used substantively, with the article, but
still retains its powers as a verb, and governs the objective, 'which.
150. The form in -s precedes the governing word: as the father's house, the master's dog.' In German the corresponding form may follow the governing noun: as 'ein Werk Schiller's,' literally 'a Work Schiller's,' where we say, a work of Schiller,' or 'a work of Schiller's.' And it is curious that both these English phrases are questioned; some grammarians doubt the one, and some the other. One says tható a work of Schiller' is absolute nonsense, and not English. ^nother maintains that "a work of Schiller's' is a blunder,