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Mrs Cowden Clarke's Concordance to Shakspere is a noble monument of the fair compiler's loving patience and carefulness; its correctness, especially when we take into account the multitude of mere figures and symbols which there was nothing in the sense or the context to protect from perversion, is wonderful; it would be hard to name a printed volume either of more difficult or of more faultless execution; it is rare to find a single figure

l or letter wrong; it may be questioned if any equally elaborate work, literary or of any other kind, so remarkable for exactness and freedom from error, ever before proceeded from the female head or hand; even as it stands, it is invaluable, and in a manner indispensable, for critical

purposes. But it is much to be wished that before it was undertaken there had existed an edition of the Plays with the speeches numbered throughout, as in the present edition of the Julius Cæsar, to which it might have been accommodated. We should in that case have found whatever we might seek by its assistance in about a fiftieth part of the average time that it now takes us.


* What is stated in the above paragraph will explain my preference for the plan of enumeration I have adopted over that subsequently employed by Herr Karl Elze in his edition of Hamlet (in the original English), with notes in German, published at Leipzig, in 1857. He has simply divided each page of the Play into so many paragraphs of equal, or nearly equal, length (he makes 241 of them in all); and, in a complimentary reference to my book, which had reached him while his own was passing through the press, he observes that I had made an attempt to furnish a similar indispensable requisite for the philological study of Shakespeare:-"einen Versuch hierzu hat allerdings ganz kürzlich Professor Craik in Belfast gemacht.” It will be seen that Herr Elze's method would not serve the more general purpose which I had in view. I have not seen Meyer's edition of the Julius Cæsar which he notices as having been published at Hamburg in the same year 1857, and the numbering in which he says is quite useless, inasmuch as it does not admit of being transferred to other editions.

As for the present Commentary on the Play of Julius Cæsar, it will be perceived that it does not at all aspire to what is commonly distinguished as the higher criticism. It does not seek to examine or to expound this Shakespearian drama æsthetically, but only philologically, or with respect to the language. The only kind of criticism which it professes is what is called verbal criticism. Its whole aim, in so far as it relates to the particular work to which it is attached, is, as far as may be done, first to ascertain or determine the text, secondly to explain it; to inquire, in other words, what Shakespeare really wrote, and how what he has written is to be read and construed.

Wherever either the earliest text or that which is commonly received has been deviated from to the extent of a word or a syllable, the alteration has been distinctly indicated. In this way a complete representation is given, in so far at least as regards the language, both of the text of the editio princeps and of the textus receptus. I have not sought to register with the same exactness the various readings of the other texts, ancient and modern; but I believe, nevertheless, that all will be found to be noted that are of any interest either in the Second Folio or among the conjectures of the long array of editors and commentators extending from Rowe to our own day.

Then, with regard to the explanation of the text :I confess that here my fear is rather that I shall be thought to have done too much than too little. But I have been desirous to omit nothing that any reader might require for the full understanding of the Play, in so far as I was able to supply it. I have even retained the common schoolboy explanations of the few points of Roman antiquities to which allusions occur, such as the arrangements of the Calendar, the usages of the Lupercalia, etc. The expression, however, is what I have chiefly dwelt upon. The labours of scores of expositors, embodied in hundreds of volumes, attest the existence in the writings of Shakespeare of numerous words, phraseologies, and passages the import of which is, to say the least, not obvious to ordinary readers of the present day. This comes partly from certain characteristics of his style, which would probably have made him occasionally a difficult author in any circumstances; but much more from the two facts, of the corrupted or at least doubtful state of the text in many places, and the changes that our national speech has undergone since his age. The English of the sixteenth century is in various respects a different language from that of the nineteenth. The words and constructions are not throughout the same, and when they are they have not always the same meaning. Much of Shakespeare's vocabulary has ceased to fall from either our lips or our pens; much of the meaning which he attached to so much of it as still survives has dropt out of our minds. What is most misleading of all, many words and forms have acquired senses for us which they had not for him. All such cases that the Play presents I have made it my object to notice. Wherever there seemed to be any risk of the true meaning being mistaken, I have, in as few words as possible, stated what I conceived it to be. Where it was not clear to myself, I have frankly confessed my inability to explain it satisfactorily.

In so far as the Commentary relates to the particular Play which it goes over, and professes to elucidate, it is intended to be as complete as I could make it, in the sense of not leaving any passage unremarked upon which seemed to be difficult or obscure. But, of course,


it puts forward no pretensions to a similar completeness, or thoroughness, in respect of any further purpose. It is far from embracing the whole subject of the English of Shakespeare, or making any attempt to do so. It is merely an introduction to that subject. In the Prolegomena, nevertheless, I have sought to lay a foundation for the full and systematic treatment of an important department of it in the exposition which is given of some principles of our prosody, and some peculiarities of Shakespeare's versification, which his editors have not in general sufficiently attended to. Such investigations are, I conceive, full of promise of new light in regard to the history both of the Plays and of the mind of their author.

Still less can the Commentary pretend to any completeness in what it may contain in reference to the history and constitution of the language generally, or of particular classes of words and constructions. Among the fragments, or specimens, however—for they can be nothing more—which occur in it of this kind of speculation are a few which will be found, perhaps, to carry out the examination of a principle, or the survey of a group of connected facts, farther than had before been done; such as those in the notes on Merely (45), on Its (54), on Shrew and Shrewd (186), on Statue (246), on Deliver (348), on the prefix Be (390), on The in combination with a comparative (675), etc.*

* I may add a remark on the word business, noticed in 496. Whether our busy be or be not the same with the German böse, signifying wicked (even as both wicked and weak have been supposed to be identical with quick, —Vid. 267), and whatever may be the origin of the French besogne and besoin, and the Italian bisogna and bisogno, there can, I conceive, be no doubt that our business, which never (at least in modern English) means the condition or quality of being busy, is really nothing more than the French besoins or besognes, formerly busoignes,-as, for example, in the Stat. of the 25th of Edward I. (Confirmatio Chartarum) :—“les aides e les mises les queles il nous unt fait avaunt ces houres pur nos guerres e autres busoignes ;” or in an answer of Edward III, to Archbishop Stratford in 1341 :—“Queu chose le Roi ottreia. Mes il dit, q'il voleit que les busoignes touchantes l'estat du Roialme et commune profit fussent primes mys en exploit, et puis il ferroit exploiter les autres(Rot. Par. II. 127). The ness, therefore, is here not the substantival affix, but merely a misrepresentation of the final letters of the word in its plural form. “Go about your business” is go about your (own) needs, occasions, affairs. We speak of the busy bee, and of a busy man, or a man who is busy, but we do not (now at least) call the condition or the natural quality the business of either the man or of the bee. What we understand by a man's business is (grammatically or logically) something of the same kind, not with his goodness, but rather with his goods. The irregular or exceptional pronunciation of the word business would alone indicate some peculiarity of origin or formation. Business, pronounced in two syllables, is evidently not a word of the same kind with heaviness, for instance, pronounced in three.

This new edition has been revised throughout with the greatest care; and it will be found to present a considerable number of alterations, additions, and improvements as compared with the former. A difference between the two conspicuous at first sight is that the Text of the Play is now much more conveniently placed for all the purposes of such a book by being incorporated with the Commentary. *

* I have retained, it will be observed, in speech 363 the emendation of Mr Collier's MS. annotator—“A curse shall light upon the loins of

But since this part of the volume has been printed off I confess that I have, although at first very much opposed to it, been more and more impressed, the more I consider it, in favour of a new reading for which a strong case has been made out, and urged upon my attention, by a distinguished literary friend, -"A curse shall fall upon these impious men.” In the first place, on looking at the passage, every reader will, I think, be struck with something incongruous and improbable in the denunciation here of a curse upon men generally,-upon the whole human race, let it be regarded with reference whether to the occasion, and to the circumstances on which Antony founds it, or to the calamities about to fall merely upon Italy


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