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PREPOSITIONS. Upon used metaphorically; adverbially

Upon ("for the purpose of") is still used in "upon an errand," but not, as in

“Upon malicious bravery dost thou come?

We should use "over" in

“I have no power upon you,

and we should not use upon in

“And would usurp upon my watery eyes.

“Let your highness
Command upon me.

though after "claim" and "demand" upon is still used. So "an attack upon" is still English, but not

“I have o'erheard a plot of death upon him.


“I am yours . . . upon your will to suffer.

i.e. "in dependence on." It would seem that the metaphorical use of upon is now felt to be too bold unless suggested by some strong word implying an actual, and not a possible influence. Thus "claim" and "demand" are actual, while "power" may, perhaps, not be put in action. So "attack" and "assault" are the actual results of "plot." Yet the variable use of prepositions, and their close connection with particular words, is illustrated by the fact that we can say, "I will wait upon him," but not

“I thank you and will stay upon your leisure.

Even here, however, our "wait upon" means, like "call upon," an actual interview, and does not, like "stay upon," signify the "staying in hope of, or on the chance of, audience."

Upon also means "in consequence of."

“When he shall hear she died upon (i.e. not 'after,' but 'in
consequence of') his words.

“And fled is he upon this villany.” Ib. v. 1. 258.

“Break faith upon commodity.

“Thy son is banish'd upon good advice.


“You have too much respect upon the world,

there is an allusion to the literal meaning of "respect." "You look too much upon the world." The upon is connected with "respect," and is not used like our "for" in "I have no respect for him."

The use of "upon" to denote "at" or "immediately after" is retained in "upon this;" but we could not say

“You come most carefully upon your hour.

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