Famously, if not accurately, Winston Churchill is supposed to have responding to an editor who had "fixed" a sentence ending with a preposition by writing, "This is the sort of thing up with which I will not put." The terminal preposition/adverb construction is often required in German grammar and I am asking if the English "rule" that proscribes the usage arose as an expression of anti-German sentiment around about the time either the two world wars started up. What is the history of this "rule?"
From Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (1989):
Where did this "cherished superstition" come from? It seems to have originated with the 17th-century English poet, playwright, and essayist John Dryden. In 1672, Dryden wrote a piece of criticism called "Defence of the Epilogue," the main purpose of which was to demonstrate that the English use by writers of Dryden's time was superior to that of an earlier generation of writers. ... The italic line is from [Ben] Jonson's Catiline (1611); the comment on it is Dryden's:
"The bodies that those souls were frighted from.
"The Preposition in the end of the sentence; a common fault with him, and which I have but lately observ'd in my own writings."
As for the supposed anti-German aspect of the rule against ending sentences with prepositions, a Funk & Wagnalls booklet titled "Faulty Diction" (1915) offers this comment:
prepositions. Some authorities object to the use of a preposition as the final word in a sentence, but such usage is in accord with the genius of all the Teutonic languages. The correctness of such usage—often the necessity for it—is to be determined by the meaning intended to be conveyed.
It seems fairly clear that the author of this pamphlet (published at an early stage of the Great War) considered English to be among the "Teutonic languages" and hence capable of exercising its genius by placing prepositions at the end of sentences.