Графични страници
PDF файл

Somewhat curious, too, are the variations of import through which the word clever has passed, or among which it still wanders. Johnson, after giving its modern or common signification as " dexterous, skilful," and noticing that Pope has used it in the sense of "just, fit," and Arbuthnot in that of “well-shaped,” concludes by describing it as "a low word applied to anything a man likes, without a settled meaning.” Webster, omitting

well-shaped,” gives the New England sense, “ good-natured, amiable;" and then adds :-" In some of the United States, it is said, this word is applied to the intellect, denoting ingenious, knowing, discerning.” This last, it need scarcely be observed, is in fact nearly the modern sense of the word in England. The American lexicographer erroneously supposes that its use in Great Britain is distinguished from its use in America by its being in the former country "applied to the body or its movements."

348. When I struck him.-In the original printed text it is “strooke him."

349. Let each man render me his bloody hand. - Give me back in return for mine. Here, according to the stage direction of Mr Collier's MS. annotator, Antony " takes one after another of the conspirators by the hand, and turns to the body, and bends over it, while he says, That I did love thee, Cæsar, O! 'tis true,"” etc.

manuscript corrections and additions.” The American lexicographer's sense of hearing would appear to have been peculiarly constituted. Another thing that he tells us is, that, when he was in England, he paid particular attention to the practice of public speakers in regard to the sound of the vowel u, and was happy to find that very few of them made any

distinction between the u in such words as cube or duke and the u in rude or true. I do not know whether he means to say that he found cube to be generally called coob, or rude to be pronounced as if it were written ryude. What is most surprising is that all this should have been reproduced by an English editor without either a word of dissent or so much as a note of admiration.

[ocr errors]

349. Will I shake with you.—It is not to be supposed that there was anything undignified in this phraseology in Shakespeare's age.

349. Though last, not least.--So in King Lear, i. 1, Although the last, not least in our dear love;" as is noted by Malone, who adds that "the same expression occurs more than once in Plays exhibited before the time of Shakespeare.” We have it also in the passage of Spenser's Colin Clout's Come Home Again in which Shakespeare has been supposed to be referred to :

“And there, though last, not least, is Ætion;
A gentler shepherd may no where be found;
Whose muse, full of high thought's invention,

Doth like himself heroically sound.”
This poem was published in 1595.

349. You must conceit me.-Vid. 142.

349. Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death ? Of this use of dear we have several other instances in Shakespeare. One of the most remarkable is in Hamlet, i. 2, where Hamlet exclaims

“Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven

Ere I had seen that day!” Horne Tooke (Div. of Purley, 612, etc.) makes a plausible case in favour of dear being derived from the ancient verb derian, to hurt, to annoy, and of its proper meaning being, therefore, injurious or hateful. His notion seems to be that from this derian we have dearth, meaning properly that sort of injury which is done by the weather, and that, a usual consequence of dearth being to make the produce of the earth high-priced, the adjective dear has thence taken its common meaning of precious. This is not all distinctly asserted; but what of it may not be explicitly set forth is supposed and implied. It is, however, against an explanation which has been generally accepted, that there is no appearance of connexion between derian and the contemporary word answering to dear in

[ocr errors]

the sense of high-priced, precious, beloved, which is deore, dúre, or dýre, and is evidently from the same root, not with derian, but with deóran, or dýran, to hold dear, to love. There is no doubt about the existence of an old English verb dere, meaning to hurt, the unquestionable representative of the original derian: thus in Chaucer (C. T. 1824) Theseus says to Palamon and Arcite, in the Knight's Tale :

“And ye shul bothe anon unto me swere
That never mo ye shul my contree dere,
Ne maken werre upon me night ne day,

But ben my frendes in alle that ye may.” But perhaps we may get most easily and naturally at the sense which dear sometimes assumes by supposing that the notion properly involved in it of love, having first become generalized into that of a strong affection of any kind, had thence passed on into that of such an emotion the very

reverse of love. We seem to have it in the intermediate sense in such instances as the following :

" Some dear cause Will in concealment wrap me up a while.”Lear, iv. 3.

precious ring; a ring that I must use

In dear employment.” Romeo and Juliet, v. 3. And even when Hamlet speaks of his “dearest foe," or when Celia remarks to Rosalind, in As You Like It, i. 3, My father hated his [Orlando's] father dearly,” the word need not be understood as implying more than strong or passionate emotion.

349. Here wast thou bayed. --So afterwards, in 498, “ We are at the stake, And bayed about with many enemies.” It is not clear, however, in what sense the verb to be bayed is used in these passages. Does it mean to be embayed, or enclosed ? or to be barked at? or to be made to stand, as it is phrased, at bay? The bays in these expressions appear to be all different words. According to Horne Tooke, to bay, meaning to enclose, undoubtedly

[ocr errors]


the same with a bay of the sea, is from the ancient bygan, to bend, and is essentially the same with both bow and bough. This is also, of course, the bay which we have in baywindow.Div. of Purley, 464, 465. To bay, meaning to bark, again, Tooke conceives to be the same element which we have in the Greek Boaw (to call aloud, to roar), as well as in the Italian abbaiare and the French aboyer, and, understood as meaning to cry down, to vilify, to reproach, to express abhorrence, aversion, and defiance, to be the root of bad (quasi bayed), of bane (bayen), of the verb to ban, and of the French bas and its English derivative base.-Id. 357.—As for at bay, it is evidently the French aux abois, meaning in extremity, at the last gasp; and, whatever abois may be, it does not appear how it can have anything to do with aboyer, to bark. There are also to be accounted for the bay, a name for the laurel, and the colour called bay, applied to a horse, to salt, and to woollen thread. A division of a house or other building was formerly called a bay; as in Measure for Measure, ii. 1:-“If this law hold in Vienna ten years, I'll rent the fairest house in it after threepence a bay." For this, and also Bay-window, see Nares. In Boucher (or rather in the additions by his editors) will be found the further meanings of a boy, a stake, a berry, the act of baiting with dogs, round, to bend, and to obey. Spenser uses to bay for to bathe. In The Taming of the Shrew, v. 2, we have the unusual form at a bay : “ 'Tis thought your deer does hold you at a bay."

349. Signed in thy spoil, and crimsoned in thy death. -Instead of death the First Folio has Lethee, the others Lethe; and the passage is explained as meaning marked and distinguished by being arrayed in thy spoils (the power in the commonwealth which was thine), and made crimson by being as it were bathed in thy shed blood. But Steevens's note is entirely unsatisfactory:

Lethe,he says, “is used by many of the old translators

of novels for death;" and then he gives as an example the following sentence from the Second Part of Heywood's Iron Age, printed in 1632:

“The proudest nation that great Asia nursed

Is now extinct in lethe." Here lethe may plainly be taken in its proper and usual sense of forgetfulness, oblivion. No other example is produced either by the commentators or by Nares. Shakespeare, too, repeatedly uses lethe, and nowhere, unless it be in this passage, in any other than its proper sense. If, however, lethe and lethum (or letum),--which may, or may not, be connected, -were really sometimes confounded by the popular writers of the early part of the seventeenth century, they are kept in countenance by the commentators of the eighteenth. Steevens goes on to notice, as affording another proof that lethe sometimes signified death, the following line from Cupid's Whirligig, printed in 1616:

“For vengeance' wings bring on thy lethal day;" and he adds : Dr Farmer observes, that we meet with lethal for deadly in the Information for Mungo Campbell." It is not easy to understand this. Who ever doubted that deadly was the proper meaning of lethalis (from lethum) ? But what has that to do with the signification of lethe? I do not know what it is that may have led Nares to imagine that, when lethe meant death, it was pronounced as a monosyllable. Seeing, however, that the notion of its ever having that signification appears to be a mere delusion, I have followed Mr Collier in supposing it to be here a misprint for death, which was the obvious conjecture of several of the editors of the last century, and is sanctioned by the authority of his MS. annotator.

349. Strucken by many princes.-It is stroken in the original edition. In the preceding line, also, “the heart


« ПредишнаНапред »