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shrewd, and shrewish are often used with a special reference to the tongue. But sharpness of tongue, again, always implies some sharpness of understanding as well as of temper. The terms shrewd and shrewdly, accordingly, have come to convey usually something of both of these qualities, at one time, perhaps, most of the one, at another of the other. The sort of ability that we call shrewdness never suggests the notion of anything very high: the word has always a touch in it of the sarcastic or disparaging. But, on the other hand, the disparagement which it expresses is never without an admission of something also that is creditable or flattering. Hence it has come to pass that a person does not hesitate to use the terms in question even of himself and his own judgments or conjectures. We say, "I shrewdly suspect or guess," or I have a shrewd guess, or suspicion," taking the liberty of thus asserting or assuming our own intellectual acumen under cover of the modest confession at the same time of some little ill-nature in the exercise of it.
Even when shrewd is used without any personal reference, the sharpness which it implies is generally, if not always, a more or less unpleasant sharpness. "This last day was a shrewd one to us," says one of the Soldiers of Octavius to his comrade, in Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 9, . after the encounter in which they had been driven back by Antony near Alexandria. Shrewdness is even used by Chaucer in the sense of evil generally; as in The House of Fame, iii. 537 :
"Speke of hem harm and shreuednesse,
And so too Bacon:-"An ant is a wise creature for it self; but it is a shrewd thing in an orchard or garden." Essay 23rd; "Of Wisdom for a Man's Self."
186. If he improve them.-That is, if he apply them, if he turn them to account. It is remarkable that no
notice is taken of this sense of the word either by Johnson or Todd. Many examples of it are given by Webster under both Improve and Improvement. They are taken from the writings, among others, of Tillotson, Addison, Chatham, Blackstone, Gibbon. We all remember
"How doth the little busy bee
Even Johnson himself, in The Rambler, talks of a man capable of enjoying and improving life,"-by which he can only mean turning it to account. The im of improve must be, or must have been taken to be, the preposition or the intensive particle, not the in negative, although it is the latter which we have both in the Latin improbus and improbo, and also in the French improuver, the only signification of which is to disapprove, and although in the latinized English of some of our writers. of the sixteenth century to improve occurs in the senses both of to reprove and to disprove. In Much Ado About Nothing, ii. 3, when Benedick, speaking to himself of Beatrice, says, "They say the lady is fair; . . . and virtuous; 'tis so, I cannot reprove it," he seems to mean that he cannot disprove it. The manner in which the word improve was used in the middle of the seventeenth century may be seen from the following sentences of Clarendon's :-“ This gave opportunity and excuse to many persons of quality . . . to lessen their zeal to the King's cause; . . . and those contestations had been lately improved with some sharpness by the Lord Herbert's carriage towards the Lord Marquis of Hertford" (Hist., Book vi.). "Though there seemed reasons enough to dissuade her [the Queen] from that inclination [of retiring from Oxford, when it was threatened with a siege, for Exeter], and his majesty heartily wished that she could be diverted, yet the perplexity of her mind was so great, and her fears so vehement, both improved by her indisposition of health, that
all civility and reason obliged everybody to submit" (Id., Book viii.).
187. And envy afterwards.-Envy has here the sense often borne by the Latin invidia, or nearly the same with hatred or malice. And this, as Malone remarks, is the sense in which it is almost always used by Shakespeare.
187. Let us be sacrificers.—I cannot think that the Let's be of the First Folio indicates more, at most, than that it was the notion of the original printer or editor that sacrificers should be pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable. If we keep to the ordinary pronunciation, the line will merely have two supernumerary short, or unaccented, syllables; that is to say, "sacrificers, but not" will count for only two feet, or four syllables. This is nothing more than what we have in many other lines.
187. We all stand up, etc.—Spirit is the emphatic word in this line.
187. And let our hearts, etc.-Vid. 155.
187. This shall mark.-For the shall see 181.-The old reading is "This shall make," which is sense, if at all, only on the assumption that make is here equivalent to make to seem. I have no hesitation in accepting the correction, which we owe to Mr Collier's MS. annotator. We have now a clear meaning perfectly expressed; this will show to all that our act has been a measure of stern and sad necessity, not the product of envy (or private hatred).
187. Our purpose necessary, etc.-There is nothing irregular in the prosody of this line, nor any elision to be made. The measure is completed by the en of envious ; the two additional unaccented syllables have no prosodical effect.
188. Yet I do fear him.—The old reading is, "Yet I fear him;" the do was inserted by Steevens. It improves, if it is not absolutely required by, the sense or
expression as well as the prosody. Mr Knight, by whom it is rejected, says, "The pause which naturally occurs before Cassius offers an answer to the impassioned argument of Brutus would be most decidedly marked by a proper reader or actor." This pause Mr Knight would have to be equivalent to a single short syllable, or half a time. Surely one somewhat longer would have been necessary for such an effect as is supposed. The manner in which the next line is given in the original text shows that the printer or so-called editor had no notion of what the words meant, or whether they had any meaning: in his exhibition of them, with a full-point after Caesar, they have none.
189. Is to himself, etc.—To think, or to take thought, seems to have been formerly used in the sense of to give way to sorrow and despondency. Thus, in Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 11, to Cleopatra's question, after the battle of Actium, "What shall we do, Enobarbus? "the answer of that worthy is, "Think and die.”
189. And that were much he should.-That would be much for him to do.
190. There is no fear in him. That is, cause of fear. It is still common to use terror in this active sense, as when in 551 Brutus says, "There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats."
192. The clock hath stricken.-Vid. 46.
194. Whether Cæsar will come forth to day or no.Whether is thus given uncontracted here in all the old copies. And it might have so stood, inoffensively enough, in all the other passages in which the slight irregularity of the superfluous short syllable has been got rid of by its conversion into where or whe'r.
194. Quite from the main opinion.-" Quite from " is quite away from. So in Twelfth Night, v. 1, Malvolio, charging the Countess with having written the letter, says:
"You must not now deny it is your hand;
Write from it, if you can, in hand or phrase."
Malone remarks that the words "main opinion" occur also in Troilus and Cressida, where, as he thinks, they signify, as here, general estimation. The passage is in i. 3:—
"Why then we should our main opinion crush
Johnson's interpretation is perhaps better;-“ leading, fixed, predominant opinion." Mason has ingeniously proposed to read “mean opinion” in the present passage.
194. Of fantasy, etc.-Fantasy is fancy, or imagination, with its unaccountable anticipations and apprehensions, as opposed to the calculations of reason. By ceremonies, as Malone notes, we are to understand here omens or signs deduced from sacrifices or other ceremonial rites. The word is used again in the same sense in 233. For another sense of it see 16.
194. These apparent prodigies. Apparent is here plain, evident, about which there can be no doubt; as in Falstaff's (to Prince Henry) "Were it not here apparent that thou art heir apparent" (First part of King Henry the Fourth, i. 2),-where the here is also certainly intended to coincide with the heir, giving rise to a suspicion that the latter word may have, sometimes at least, admitted of a different pronunciation in Shakespeare's day from that which it always has now. So when Milton says of our first parents after their fall (Par. Lost, x. 112) that
"Love was not in their looks, either to God
Or to each other, but apparent guilt,"
he means by "apparent guilt" manifest and undoubted guilt. In other cases by apparent we mean, not emphatically apparent, or indisputable, but simply apparent, apparent and nothing more, or what we otherwise call probable or seeming. "The sense is apparent" would