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that, both in its inflexional and in its non-inflexional character, it still exists in a good many words in a disguised form,-in that namely of be. Many of our words beginning with be cannot be otherwise accounted for. Our modern beloved, for example, is undoubtedly the ancient gelufed. Another remarkable instance is that of the familiar word belief or believe. The Original English has no such verb as belyfan ; its form for our believe is gelyfan (the same with the modern German glauben). Again, to become (at least in the sense of to suit) is the Original English gecweman : there is no becweman. Become, in this sense, it ought to be noticed, has apparently no connexion with to come (from coman, or cuman); we have its root cweman in the old English to quem, meaning to please, used by Chaucer. And the German also, like our modern English, has in this instance lost or rejected both the simple form and the ge- form, retaining, or substituting, only bequem and bequemen. Nor is there any belang or belong; our modern belong is from the ancient gelang. In like manner there is no such Original English verb as besecan ; there is only gesecan, from which we have formed our beseek and beseech. So tacn, or tacen, is a token, from which is getacnian, to denote by a token or sign; there is no betacnian ; yet we say to betoken. And there are probably other examples of the same thing among the words now in use having be for the commencing syllable (of which the common dictionaries give us about a couple of hundreds), although the generality of them are only modern fabrications constructed in imitation of one another, and upon no other principle than the assumption that the syllable in question may be prefixed to almost any verb whatever. Such are bepraise, bepowder, bespatter, bethump, and many more. Only between thirty and forty seem to be traceable to Original English verbs beginning with be.
The facts that have been mentioned sufficiently explain the word beholden. It has nothing to do with the modern behold, or the ancient behealdan (which, like its modern representative, signified to see or look on), but is another form, according to the corruption which we have seen to take place in so many other instances, of gehealden, the past participle passive of healdan, to hold; whence its meaning, here and always, of held, bound, obliged. It corresponds to the modern German gehalten, of the same signification, and is quite distinct from behalten, the past participle passive of the verb behalten, which signifies kept, preserved.
One word, which repeatedly occurs in Shakespeare, containing the prefix ge, has been generally misunderstood by his editors. What they all, I believe without exception, print I wis, or I wiss, as if it were a verb with its nominative, is undoubtedly one word, and that an adverb, signifying certainly, probably. It ought to be written ywis, or ywiss, corresponding as it does exactly to the modern German gewiss. It is true, indeed, that Sir Frederic Madden in the Glossary to his edition of Syr Gawayne (printed, for the Roxburgh Club, in 1839) expresses a doubt whether it were “not regarded as a pronoun and verb by the writers of the fifteenth century.” But this supposition Dr Guest (Phil. Proc. II. 160) regards as wholly gratuitous. He believes there is not a single instance to be found in which wiss, or wisse, has been used in the sense of to know," till our modern glossarists and editors chose to give it that signification." Johnson in his Dictionary enters wis as a verb, meaning to think, to imagine. Webster does the same. So also Nares in his Glossary. It is the only explanation which any of these authorities give of the form in question. “The preterite," adds Nares, “is wist. The present tense is seldom found but in the first person; the pre
terite was common in all the persons."
In a note on
“Nay, nay, quod she, God help me so, as wis
C. T. 11,781.
395. We are blest that Rome is rid of him.—The Second Folio has“ We are glad.”
But Mr Collier in his one volume restores blest, although it does not appear to be one of the corrections of his MS. annotator.
399. Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest.--Compare “By your pardon" of 358.
399. When that the poor have cried.--The that in such cases as this is merely a summary or compendious expression of what follows, which was convenient, perhaps, in a ruder condition of the language, as more distinctly marking out the clause to be comprehended under the when. We still commonly use it with now, when it serves to discriminate the conjunction from the adverb, although not with other conjunctions which are never adverbs. Chaucer often introduces with a that even the clause that follows a relative pronoun; as (C. T. 982):—"The Minotaur
which that he slew in Crete;" or (C. T. 988) “With Creon, which that was of Thebes king."
399. You all did see, that on the Lupercal. --Vid. 17.
399. What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him ? We should now say, “ Withholds you from mourning." We could not use withhold followed by the infinitive.
403. Has he not, masters ? - The common reading is “ Has he, masters ?” The prosody clearly demands the insertion of some monosyllable; Capell accordingly inserted
my before masters; but the word required by the sense and the connexion evidently is not. The correction, though conjectural, is therefore one which may be regarded as of nearly absolute necessity and certainty.Masters was the common term of address to a miscellaneous assembly formerly. So again in 408; where, however, the word is Maisters in both the First and Second Folios, although not usually so elsewhere.
404. Some will dear abide it. Vid. 327.
408. And none so poor to do him reverence. The omission of one of two correlative words (such as the as answering to the so here) is, when no ambiguity is thereby occasioned, allowable in almost all circumstances.The manner in which the clause is hung on to what precedes by the conjunction is such as to preclude the necessity of a new copula or affirmative term. It is as if it
with none so poor,” etc. And and is logically (whatever it may be etymologically) equivalent to with. So in 164, “Yes every man of them; and no man here But honours you.”
408. Let but the commons hear this testament. The commonalty, the common people.
408. And dip their napkins in his sacred blood.-A napkin (connected with napery, from the French nappe, a cloth, which, again, appears to be a corruption of the Latin mappa, of the same signification, the original also
of our map, and of the mappe of the French mappemonde, that is mappa mundi) is still the common name for a pocket handkerchief in Scotland. It is also that commonly employed by Shakespeare; See the Third Act of Othello, and the Fourth Act of As you Like It.-Com
412. Read the will; etc.-- This and most of the subsequent exclamations of the populace need not be considered
413. I have o'ershot myself, to tell you of it.---That is, I have overshot myself (done more than I had intended) by telling you of it.
419. He comes down, etc.—This stage direction is not in the older copies.
422. Stand from the hearse.—The hearse was the frame or stand on which the body lay. It is the French herse or herce, meaning a portcullis or harrow; whence the English term seems to have been applied to whatever was constructed of bars or beams laid crosswise.
426. That day he overcame the Nervii. These words certainly ought not to be made a direct statement, as they are by the punctuation of the Variorum and of most other modern editions, though not by that of Mr Collier's regulated text.
426. As rushing out of doors, to be resolved.--Vid. 339. 426. This was the most unkindest cut of all. - Vid. 337.
426. For Brutus, as you know, was Cæsar's angel.-I cannot think that the meaning can be, as Boswell suggests, his guardian angel. It is much more natural to understand it as being simply his best beloved, his darling.
426. For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab. The him is here strongly emphatic, notwithstanding its occupation of one of the places assigned by the common rule to short or unaccented syllables. Vid. 436.
426. Even at the base of Pompey's statue.-Vid. 246. The measure, Malone remarks, will be defective (unless