Графични страници
PDF файл

Verona calls out of love. The expression cast yourself in wonder seems to be most closely paralleled by another in King Richard III., 1. 3:-“Clarence, whom I, indeed, have cast in darkness," as it stands in the First Folio, although the preceding Quartos (of which there were five, 1597, 1598, 1602, 1612 or 1613, 1622) have all “ laid in darkness." We have another instance of Shakespeare's use of in where we should now say into in the familiar lines in The Merchant of Venice, v. 1 ;

“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank !

Here we will sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears.”

122. Why old men, etc.--Blackstone's novel pointing of this passage is ingenious:“Why old men fools" (i.e. why we have all these fires, etc., why we have old men fools). But the amendment is hardly required; or, at any rate, it would not go far to give us a perfectly satisfactory text. Nor does there seem to be any necessity for assigning to calculate the singular sense of prophesy (which the expression adduced by Johnson, to calculate a nativity, is altogether insufficient to authorize). There is probably some corruption, but the present line may be very well understood as meaning merely, why not only old men, but even fools and children, speculate upon the future; or, still more simply, why all persons, old and young, and the foolish as well as the wise, take part in such speculating and prognosticating. Shakespeare may have been so far from thinking, with Blackstone, that it was something unnatural and prodigious for old men ever to be fools, that he has even designed to classify them with foolish persons generally, and with children, as specially disqualified for looking with any very deep insight into the future. And so doubtless they are apt to be, when very old.

122. Unto some monstrous state.--That is, I suppose,

some monstrous or unnatural state of things (not some overgrown commonwealth).

122. And roars, etc.—That is, roars in the Capitol as doth the lion. Many readers, I believe, go away with the notion that Cæsar is here compared by Cassius to some live lion that was kept in the Capitol. Or perhaps it may be sometimes imagined that he alludes to the same lion which Casca (though not in his hearing) has just been telling Cicero that he had met " against the Capitol.” -The Second and two following Folios have tears for roars. Mr Collier, however, prints roars, although it is not stated that that word is restored by his MS. annotator.

122. No mightier than thyself, or me.-- Of course, in strict grammar it should be than 1. But the personal pronouns must be held to be, in some measure, emanci. pated from the dominion or tyranny of syntax. Who would rectify even Shelley's bold

“lest there be No solace left for thou and me ?”

The grammatical law has so slight a hold that a mere point of euphony is deemed sufficient to justify the neglect of it.

As we have me for I in the present passage, we have I for me in Antonio's “ All debts are cleared between you and I” (Merchant of Venice, iii. 2). Other examples of the same irregularity are the following :“Which none but Heaven, and you and I, shall hear.”

King John, i. 1. “Which none may hear but she and thou.”

Coleridge, Day Dream. In both these passages but can only be the preposition. So where Corin, in his conversation with Touchstone, in As You Like It, iii. 2, says, “ You told me you salute not at the court but you kiss your hands,” he does not


mean that there is no saluting at court, only kissing of hands, but that people never salute without kissing hands. There ought to be no comma after court. The form of phrase is the same that we have afterwards in iii. 5:

“ The common executioner. Falls not the axe upon the humbled neck

But first begs pardon;”. that is, without first asking pardon. 124. Let it be who it is.-Not who it may

be; Cassius, in his present mood, is above that subterfuge. While he abstains from pronouncing the name, he will not allow it to be supposed that there is any doubt about the actual existence of the man he has been describing:

124. Thews and limbs.—The common signification of the word theus in our old writers is manners, or qualities of mind and disposition. This is the sense in which it is always used both by Chaucer and by Spenser. It is also the only sense of the Original English theaw. And even at a comparatively late date any other sense seems to have been felt to be strange. The editors of the Third and Fourth Folios (1664 and 1685) substitute sinews in the present passage. Pope, on the other hand, retaining, or restoring, thews, explains it as meaning here manners or capacities. But, even if the true meaning of the word were disputable in this passage considered by itself, the other instances of its use by Shakespeare would clearly show what sense he attached to it. They are only two. “ Care I,” says Falstaff, in the Second Part of King Henry IV., iii. 2, "for the limb, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big assemblance of a man? Give me the spirit, Master Shallow.” And exactly in the same way it is used by Laertes in Hamlet, i. 3:

“ For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
In thews and bulk; but, as this temple waxes,
The inward service of the mind and soul
Grows wide withal.”

In all the three passages by thews Shakespeare means unquestionably brawn, nerves, muscular vigour. And to this

sense, and this only, the word has now settled down; the other sense, which was formerly so familiar in our literature, is quite gone out and forgotten. Shakespeare's use of it had probably been always common in the popular language. There appear in fact to have been two Original English words, theaw and theow, the latter the original of our modern thigh and also of Shakespeare's thew. It is preserved, too, in the Scottish thowless, meaning feeble or sinewless. Only one or two instances, however, have been discovered of the word being used by any other English writer before Shakespeare in his sense of it. One is given by Nares from George Turbervile, who, in his translation of Ovid's Epistles, first printed in 1567, has " the thews of Helen's passing [that is, surpassing] form." In the earlier version of Layamon's Brut, also, which belongs to the end of the twelfth century, we have in one place (verse 6361), “ Monnene strengest of maine and of theawe of alle thissere theode” (of men strongest of main, or strength, and of sinew, of all this land). But Sir Frederic Madden remarks (III. 471) :-“This is the only instance in the poem of the word being applied to bodily qualities, nor has any


of an earlier date than the sixteenth century been found in which it is so used.” It may be conjectured that it had only been a provincial word in this sense, till Shakespeare adopted it.

124. But, woe the while !—This, I believe, is commonly understood to mean, alas for the present time; but may not the meaning, here at least, rather be, alas for what hath come to pass in the mean while, or in the interval that has elapsed since the better days of our heroic ancestors ?

124. And we are governed with.We now commonly employ by to denote agency, and with where there is only instrumentality; but that distinction was not formerly so fully established, and with was used more frequently than it is with us. Shakespeare even has (Rich. II., iii. 3) “I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief.”

126. I know where I will wear this dagger, then.The true meaning of this line is ruined by its being printed, as it is in the old, and also in most of the modern editions, without the comma. Cassius does not intend to be understood as intimating that he is prepared to plunge his dagger into his heart at that time, but in that case.

126. Can be retentive to.-Can retain or confine the spirit.

126. If I know this, etc.—The logical connexion of “If I know this” is with “That part of tyranny,” etc.; but there is also a rhetorical connexion with “Know all the world besides.” As if he had said, “Knowing this, I can shake off, etc.; and, I knowing this, let all others too know and be aware that I can,” etc.

127. The power to cancel, etc.--Here, it will be observed, we have power reduced to a monosyllable, although it had been employed as a dissyllable only five lines before, “ Never lacks power," etc.

128. He were no lion, etc.-His imagination is still filled with the image by which he has already pictured the tyranny of the Dictator ;_"roars, as doth the lion, in the Capitol.”Hind, a she stag, is correctly formed from the Original English hinde, of the same meaning; our other hind, a peasant, was originally hine and hina, and has taken the d only for the sake of a fuller or firmer enunciation. It may be noted, however, that, although there is a natural tendency in certain syllables to seek this addition of breadth or strength, it is most apt to operate when it is aided, as here, by the existence of some other word or form to which the d properly belongs. Thus, soun (from sonner and sono) has probably been the more easily converted into sound from having become confounded in the popular ear and understanding with

« ПредишнаНапред »