d. orig. Sc. In imperative or optative use: 'may it (or let it) please you', used chiefly to introduce a respectful request. Formerly with bare infinitive, that-clause, or and followed by imperative. Now only with to-infinitive (chiefly regional).
Examples with bare infinitive complement are now usually analysed as please adv. followed by an imperative. This change probably dates from the development of the adverb, which may stand at the beginning of a clause modifying a main verb in the imperative.
1543 in A. I. Cameron Sc. Corr. Mary of Lorraine (1927) 8 Mademe..pleis wit I have spokin with my lord governour.
1568 D. Lindsay Satyre (Bannatyne) 3615 in Wks. (1931) II. 331 Schir pleis ȝe that we twa invaid thame And ȝe sell se vs sone degraid thame.
1617 in L. B. Taylor Aberdeen Council Lett. (1942) I. 144 Pleis ressave the contract.
1667 Milton Paradise Lost v. 397 Heav'nly stranger, please to taste These bounties which our Nourisher,..To us for food and for delight hath caus'd The Earth to yeild.
1688 J. Bloome Let. 7 Mar. in R. Law Eng. in W. Afr. (2001) II. 149 Please to procure mee weights, scales, blow panns and sifters.
1716 J. Steuart Let.-bk. (1915) 36 Please and forward the inclosed for Hamburg.
1757 W. Provoost Let. 25 Aug. in Beekman Mercantile Papers (1956) II. 659 Please to send me the following things Vizt. 1 Dozen of Black mitts. 1 piece of Black Durant fine.
1798 T. Holcroft Inquisitor iv. viii. 49 Please, Sir, to read, and be convinced.
1805 E. Cavanagh Let. 20 Aug. in M. Wilmot & C. Wilmot Russ. Jrnls. (1934) ii. 183 Will you plaise to tell them down below that I never makes free with any Body.
1871 B. Jowett tr. Plato Dialogues I. 88 Please then to take my place.
1926 N.E.D. at Way sb.1 There lies your way, please to go away.
1973 Punch 3 Oct. Please to shut up!
1997 P. Melville Ventriloquist's Tale (1998) ii. 140 Please to keep quiet and mime the songs, chile.
例文からもわかるように，that 節, to 不定詞，原形不定詞，and do などのパターンが認められる．このうち原形不定詞が続くものが，現代の一般的な丁寧な依頼・命令を表わす語法として広まっていったのである．
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