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"O, 'tis the curse in love, and still approved,
When women cannot love where they're beloved."
So, in Much Ado About Nothing, we have, in iv. 1, "an approved wanton," and afterwards "Is he not approved in the height a villain? When Don Pedro in the same Play, ii. 1, describes Benedick as "of approved valour," the words cannot be understood as conveying any notion of what we now call approval, or approbation; the meaning is merely, that he had proved his valour by his conduct. This is, no doubt, also, the meaning of the word in the last verse of Sir Thomas Wyat's passionately earnest lines entitled "To his Mistress" (supposed to be Anne Boleyn) :
"Forget not, then, thine own approved,
The which so long hath thee so loved,
So in Hamlet, i. 1, Marcellus says, speaking of Horatio and the Ghost,
66 -I have entreated him along
With us to watch the minutes of this night,
He may approve our eyes, and speak to it; "
that is, prove our eyes true.
And in Meas. for Meas., i.
3, Claudio says,—
"This day my sister should the cloister enter,
And there receive her approbation
for what we now call probation. This sense of the word (which we still retain in the law-term an approver, in Latin probator) occurs repeatedly both in the Bible and in Milton, and in fact is the most common sense which it has in our earlier English. It is strange that it should not be noticed at all by Nares, and that the only reference for it in Boucher is in the following insertion by Stephenson:"To bring proof of.-' Matabrun in likewise en
devored her on the other syde to approve the said iniury . . . bi hir commised and purpensed.'-Heylas, p. 27." 147. Whereto the climber upward, etc. There is no hyphen in the original text connecting climber and upward, as there is in some modern editions; but any doubt as to whether the adverb should be taken along with climber or with turns might be held to be determined by the expression in Macbeth, iv. 2:-"Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upwards To what they were before."
147. The upmost round.—The step of a ladder has come to be called a round, I suppose, from its being usually cylindrically shaped. Mr Knight (whose collation of the old copies is in general so remarkably careful) has here (probably by a typographical error) utmost.
147. The base degrees.-The lower steps of the ladder -les bas degrés (from the Latin gradus) of the French. The epithet base, however, must be understood to express something of contempt, as well as to designate the position of the steps.
147. By which he did ascend.—It is not the syntax of our modern English to use the auxiliary verb in such a case as this. Vid. 16.
147. Then, lest he may, prevent.-We should not now say to prevent lest. But the word prevent continued to convey its original import of to come before more distinctly in Shakespeare's day than it does now. Vid. 161 and 709.
147. Will bear no colour for the thing he is.-Will take no shew, no plausibility, no appearance of being a just quarrel, if professed to be founded upon what Cæsar at present actually is. The use of colour, and colourable, in this sense is still familiar.
147. What he is, augmented.—What he now is, if augmented or heightened (as it is the nature of things that it should be).
147. Would run to these, etc.-To such and such ex
tremities (which we must suppose to be stated and explained). Vid. 109.
147. Think him as.-The verb to think has now lost this sense, though we might still say "Think him a serpent's egg," ," "Think him good, or wicked,” and also “To think a good or evil thought."
147. As his kind.-Like his species.
147. And kill him in the shell.—It is impossible not to feel the expressive effect of the hemistich here. The line itself is, as it were, killed in the shell.
148. This speech is headed in the Folios "Enter Lucius." The old stage direction," Gives him the Letter," is omitted by most of the modern editors.
149. The ides of March.―The reading of all the ancient copies is "the first of March;" it was Theobald who first made the correction, which has been adopted by all succeeding editors (on the ground that the day was actually that of the ides). At the same time, it does not seem to be impossible that the poet may have intended to present a strong image of the absorption of Brutus by making him forget the true time of the month. The reply of Lucius after consulting the Calendar-"Sir, March is wasted fourteen days"-sounds very much as if he were correcting rather than confirming his master's notion. Against this view we have the considerations stated by Warburton:-"We can never suppose the speaker to have lost fourteen days in his account. He is here plainly ruminating on what the Soothsayer told Cæsar [i. 2] in his presence [Beware the ides of March]." Mr Collier also prints "the ides; " but the correction does not appear to be made by his MS. annotator. Mr Knight, I apprehend, must be mistaken in saying that Shakespeare found "the first of March" in North's Plutarch: the present incident is not, I believe, anywhere related by Plutarch.
153. Brutus, thou sleep'st; awake.-I have endeavour
ed to indicate by the printing that the second enunciation of these words is a repetition by Brutus to himself, and not, as it is always made to appear, a further portion of the letter. The letter unquestionably concluded with the emphatic adjuration, "Speak, strike, redress!" It never, after this, would have proceeded to go over the ground again in the same words that had been already used. They would have only impaired the effect, and would have been quite inappropriate in their new place. We see how the speaker afterwards repeats in the like manner each of the other clauses before commenting upon it.
153. Where I have took.—Vid. 46.
153. Speak, strike, redress !-Am I entreated, etc.-The expression is certainly not strengthened by the then which was added to these words by Hanmer, in the notion that it was required by the prosody, and has been retained by Steevens and other modern editors. At the same time Mr Knight's doctrine, that "a pause, such as must be made after redress, stands in the place of a syllable," will, at any rate, not do here; for we should want two syllables after redress. The best way is to regard the supposed line as being in reality two hemistichs; or to treat the words repeated from the letter as no part of the verse. How otherwise are we to manage the preceding quotation, "Shall Rome, etc." ?
153. I make thee promise.—I make promise to thee. In another connexion, the words might mean I make thee to promise. The Second Folio has "the promise." The heading that follows this speech, and also 155, in the First Folio is Enter Lucius.
153. Thou receivest.—Mr Collier prints receiv'st,—it is not apparent why.
154. March is wasted fourteen days. In all the old editions it is fifteen. The correction was made by Theobald. Vid. 149. Mr Collier has also fourteen; but he does not here appear to have the authority of his MS. annotator.
---The heading which precedes is "Enter Lucius" in the original text.
155. The genius and the mortal instruments.—The commentators have written and disputed lavishly upon these celebrated words. Apparently, by the genius we are to understand the contriving and immortal mind, and most probably the mortal instruments are the earthly passions. The best light for the interpretation of the present passage is reflected from 186, where Brutus, advising with his fellow conspirators on the manner in which they should dispatch their mighty victim, not as blood-thirsty butchers, but as performing a sacrifice of which they lamented the necessity, says:—
"Let our hearts, as subtle masters do,
Stir up their servants to an act of rage,
The servants here may be taken to be the same with the instruments in the passage before us. It has been proposed to understand by the mortal instruments the bodily powers or organs; but it is not obvious how these could be said to hold consultation with the genius or mind. Neither could they in the other passage be so fitly said to be stirred up by the heart.
The bodily organs, however, seem to be distinctly designated the instruments and agents, in Coriolanus, i. 1, where, first, Menenius Agrippa says, in his apologue of the rebellion of the other members of the body against the belly,—
and, shortly after, the Second Citizen asks,
"The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?"
So again, in Macbeth, i. 7: