Графични страници
PDF файл

tion to the I. It is true, however, that thou and you were apt to be mistaken for one another in old handwriting from the similarity of the characters used for th and y, which is such that the printers have in many cases been led to represent the one by the other, giving us, for instance, ye for the, yereof, or y'of, for thereof, etc.*

676. Why do you cross me in this exigent.-This is Shakespeare's word for what we now call an exigence, or exigency. Both forms, however, were already in use in his day. Exigent, too, as Nares observes, appears to have then sometimes borne the sense of extremity or end, which is a very slight extension of its proper import of great or extreme pressure.

678. Drum, etc.-" Lucilius, Titinius, Messala, and Others" is a modern addition to the heading here.

680. Shall we give sign of battle?_We should now say "give signal."

681. We will answer on their charge.-We will wait till they begin to make their advance.

681. Make forth.-To make, a word which is still used

* This confusion in writing between the th and the y is, I have little doubt, what has given rise to such forms of expression as "The more one has, the more he would have," "The more haste, the less speed," etc. It is admitted that the the here cannot be the common definite article. Vid. Latham, Eng. Lang. 239, 264, 282. Neither in French nor in Italian is any article used in such cases. But it is the German that shows us what the word really is. "Je mehr einer hat, je mehr will er haben" is literally "Ever more one has, ever more he would have." And je represented according to the English system of spelling is ye. This is apparently what the pedantry of the book language, misled by the ignorance of transcribers, has perverted into our modern the. Je (or ye) is in fact the same word with our still not unfamiliar aye, always. Very probably it is also the same with yea, the adverb of affirmation. Always, or an equivalent term, would be in most cases a natural enough expression of affirmation or assent. In the word every, again, or everye, as it was anciently spelled, we have perhaps the opposite process of the conversion of the into ye; for the English "ever-y man" is, apparently, in form as well as in sense, the German "je-der mann."

with perhaps as much latitude and variety of application as any other in the language, was, like to do, employed formerly in a number of ways in which it has now ceased to serve us. Nares arranges its obsolete senses under seven heads, no one of which, however, exactly comprehends the sense it bears in the present expression. To make forth is to step forward. In preceding editions I had hastily assumed that Antony's " Make forth; the generals would have some words was addressed to the troops, in which case Make forth would be a command to them to advance against the enemy. Yet Antony, it was observed, had just opposed the proposition of Octavius to give the signal of battle, and declared his determination not to move till the enemy should make their charge. I have to thank the writer of a communication dated from Victoria, in New South Wales, for calling my attention to what is probably, after all, the sense in which the passage is commonly understood, and at any rate approves itself to be the true sense as soon as it is suggested. What Antony says is addressed, not to the troops, but to Octavius; his meaning is, Let us go forward; the generals-Brutus and Cassius-would hold some parley with us.

687. The posture of your blows are yet unknown.-This is the reading of all the old copies. The grammatical irregularity is still common. "Is yet" is the correction of Mr Collier's MS. annotator. One would be inclined rather to suspect the word posture. It seems a strange word for what it is evidently intended to express.

690. Whilst damned Casca.-This is the reading of all the Folios. Mr Collier has While.

690. Struck Cæsar on the neck.-O you flatterers !The word in the old text is strook (as in 348). There is the common prosodical irregularity of a superfluous short syllable. Vid. 601.

691. Flatterers!-Now, Brutus, thank yourself.-The

prosodical imperfection of this line consists in the want of the first syllable. It is a hemistich consisting of four feet and a half.

692. The proof of it.-That is, the proof of our arguing. And by the proof must here be meant the arbitrement of the sword to which it is the prologue or prelude. It is by that that they are to prove what they have been arguing or asserting.

692. Look; I draw a sword, etc.—It is perhaps as well to regard the Look as a hemistich (of half a foot); but in the original edition it is printed in the same line with what follows.

692. Never, till Cæsar's three and thirty wounds.-Theobald changed this to "three and twenty,"- "from the joint authorities," as he says, "of Appian, Plutarch, and Suetonius." And he may be right in believing that the error was not Shakespeare's. The "thirty," however, escapes the condemnation of Mr Collier's MS. annotator.

692. Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors.— This is not very satisfactory; but it is better, upon the whole, than the amendment adopted by Mr Collier on the authority of his MS. annotator-" Have added slaughter to the word of traitor ;"—which would seem to be an admission on the part of Octavius (impossible in the circumstances) that Brutus and Cassius were as yet free from actual treasonable slaughter, and traitors only in word or name.

693. Cæsar, thou canst not die by traitors' hands.—In the standard Variorum edition, which is followed by many modern reprints, this line is strangely given as Cæsar, thou canst not die by traitors." It is right in all Mr Knight's and Mr Collier's editions.

[ocr errors]

695. O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain.—Strain, or strene, is stock or race. The word is used several times by Shakespeare in this sense, and not only by Chaucer and Spenser, but even by Dryden, Waller, and

Prior. The radical meaning seems to be anything stretched out or extended, hence a series either of progenitors, or of words or musical notes or sentiments.

695. Thou could'st not die more honorable.-This is not Shakespeare's usual form of expression, and we may be allowed to suspect that he actually wrote honorably (or honourablie).

698. The original stage direction is, "Exit Octavius, Antony, and Army."

700. Ho! Lucilius; etc.-This is given as one verse in the original, and nothing is gained by printing the Ho! in another line by itself, as the modern editors do. The verse is complete except that it wants the first syllable,―a natural peculiarity of an abrupt commencement or rejoinder. So in 691.-In the original edition this speech is followed by the stage direction "Lucillius and Messala stand forth;" and there is no other after 701.

704. As this very day.-We are still familiar with this form of expression, at least in speaking. We may understand it to mean As is, or as falls, this very day; or rather, perhaps, as if, or as it were, this very day.

701. On our former ensign.-Former is altered to forward, it seems, by Mr Collier's MS. annotator; and the correction ought probably to be accepted. Former would hardly be the natural word unless it were intended to be implied that there were only two ensigns or standards.

704. Who to Philippi here consorted us.-Shakespeare's usual syntax is to consort with; but he has consort as an active verb in other passages as well as here.

704. This morning are they fled away, and gone.-Vid.


704. As we were sickly prey.—As if we were.-Vid. 57. 706. To meet all perils.—So in the First Folio. The other Folios have peril.

708. Lovers in peace.- Vid. 260.

708. But, since the affairs of men rest stilı uncertain.— "Rests still incertaine" is the reading in the original edition.

708. Let's reason with the worst that may befall.—The abbreviation let's had not formerly the vulgar or slovenly air which is conceived to unfit it now for dignified composition. We have had it twice in Brutus's impressive address, 187. Shakespeare, however, does not frequently resort to it, rather, one would say, avoids it.-To befall as a neuter or intransitive verb is nearly gone out both in prose and verse; as is also to fall in the same sense, as used by Brutus in the next speech.

709. Even by the rule, etc.-The pointing of this passage in the early editions is amusing:

"Even by the rule of that Philosophy,

By which I did blame Cato, for the death

Which he did give himselfe, I know not how :
But I do find it," etc.

The construction plainly is, I know not how it is, but I do find it, by the rule of that philosophy, etc., cowardly and vile. The common pointing of the modern editors, which completely separates "I know not how," etc., from what precedes, leaves the "by the rule" without connexion or meaning. It is impossible to suppose that Brutus can mean "I am determined to do by the rule of that philsophy," etc.

709. The term of life.-That is, the termination, the end, of life. The common reading is "the time of life," which is simply nonsense; term is the emendation of Mr Collier's MS. annotator, and the same emendation had also been made conjecturally by Capell, though it failed to obtain the acquiescence of subsequent editors. For to prevent see 147 and 161. "To prevent the term of life,” says Mr Collier (Notes and Emendations, 403), " means, as

« ПредишнаНапред »