#1164. as far as in me lies[idiom][preposition][chaucer][impersonal_verb]


 Chaucer の The Canterbury Tales より,The Parson's Tale を読んでいて,次の箇所で立ち止まった(Riverside版より).語り手である教区主任司祭が,呪いの悪徳について説いている箇所である.

And over alle thyng men oghten eschewe to cursen hire children, and yeven to the devel hire engendrure, as ferforth as in hem is. Certes, it is greet peril and greet synne. (l. 621)

 引用の赤で強調した as ferforth as in hem is という副詞節の意味がわからない.参照した翻訳はいずれも「できる限り」と訳出しているが,なぜそのような意味が出るのかが不明だった.そこで,一緒に読んでいた仲間と考えたり調べたりしていたが,一人が,これは現代英語の as far as in me lies なる慣用表現に相当することを突き止めた.これは,"as far as lies in my power" とも言い換えられ,つまるところ "as far as I can", "to the best of my ability" ほどの意味であるということだ.大英和辞典には載っているし,『NEW斎藤和英大辞典』にも「及ぶ限り力を尽そう」に対応する I will do all that in me lies. というような類例が見つかる.ただし,Chaucer の例文に見られるような中英語の構文は,人称主語が立っておらず,非人称構文とみなすべきだろう.
 OED では,lie, v.1 で語義 12c. のもとに次のようにある.初例はc1350.

to lie in (a person): to rest or centre in him; to depend upon him, be in his power (to do). Now chiefly in phr. as far as in (me, etc.) lies. Also, to lie in one's power, to lie in (or †on) one's hands.

 MED では,lien (v. (1)) の語義 11(c) のもとに,"~ in, to be within the bounds of possibility for (sb., his power, his knowledge, etc.);" とある.MED から集めた関連する例文を挙げよう.lie の代わりに be が使われているものも少なくない.

 ・ (1433) RParl. 4.423a: My Lorde of Bedford..be his grete wisdome and manhede..hath nobly doon his devoir to ye kepyng yerof..as ferforth as in hym hath bee.
 ・ (1447) Reg.Spofford in Cant.Yk.S.23 290: Ye shall..trewlie serve all the kynges writtes als ferforth as hit shall be in your konnyng.
 ・ (?a1450) Proc.Privy C. 6.319: Ye shall swere þat, as ferforth as in you shall be, ye aswell in visityng and overseeing as in writing and subscribing of billes, the articles abovesaide and eueriche of þeim that touche ye shall trewely justely and faithfully observe.
 ・ a1450(?c1421) Lydg. ST (Arun 119) 2366: As ferforth as it lith in me, Trusteth right wel 3e shul no faute fynde.
 ・ a1500(a1450) Gener.(2) (Trin-C O.5.2) 3109: It lithe in me The Sowdon to distroye.

 この前置詞 in の用法は内在・性格・素質・資格とでも呼ぶべき用法で,現代英語では次のような例文で確認される.

 ・ in the capacity of interpreter = in my capacity as interpreter (通訳の資格で)
 ・ He had something of the hero in his nature. (彼には多少豪傑肌のところがあった.)
 ・ He doesn't have it in him to cheat. (彼は不正をするような人ではない.)
 ・ I didn't think he had it in him (to succeed). (彼にそんな事ができるとは思わなかった.)
 ・ He has no malice in him. = It is not in him to be malicious. (彼には意地悪なところがない.)
 ・ I have found a friend in him. (私は彼という友を見出した.)
 ・ Our country has lost a great scholar in Dr. Fletcher. (我が国はフレッチャー博士という大学者を失った.)
 ・ I have tried every means in my power. (力に及ぶ限りの手段を尽した.)

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