Графични страници
PDF файл

strative pronoun, and signifies properly this or that. In German, though commonly, as with ourselves, only an adverb or conjunction, it may still be also used pronominally; as Das Buch, so ihr mir gegeben habt (the book which you gave me). Something of the same kind, as we have already seen (44), takes place even in English with as, which is perhaps only another form of so or sa. Upon this theory, all that so will perform in such a passage as the present will be to mark and separate the clause which it heads by an emphatic introductory compendium :-That (or this), namely, that with love I might, etc.; and the fact of the statement in the clause being a supposition, or assumption, will be left to be inferred. That fact, however, would be expressed by the so according to the doctrine of Dr. Webster, who conceives the word to be derived from some Hebrew or other root signifying to compose, to set, to still. “ This sense,” he affirms, “is retained in the use of the word by milkmaids, who say to cows so, so, that is, stand still, remain as you are.” Such an application of the term, I apprehend, is not peculiar to the milkmaid tongue,-a familiarity with which, however, is certainly carrying linguistic knowledge a great way. The First Folio points, blunderingly, “I would not so (with love I might intreat you).”

57. Be any further moved.Here again, as in 45, Mr. Collier prints farther, though further is the reading of both the First and the Second Folio.

57. Chew upon this.- We have lost the Saxon word in this application ; but we retain the metaphor, only translating chew into the Latin equivalent, ruminate.

57. Brutus had rather be . . . than to repute.--The sense of the verb Have in the phrase Had rather is peculiar. Johnson does not notice it. Webster asks, “Is not this phrase a corruption of would rather ?It has the same sense, as we have seen (54), in Had as lief, and in the older Had liefer, or lever. But this verb (one very largely and loosely applied in most or in all languages) was probably used by us formerly in all its parts with much more latitude of signification than it has now. When Chaucer, for instance, says of his Clerk of Oxenforde, that he “unto logike hadde long ago(C. T. Prol. 288), the word seems to be used in a sense which it has now lost. There is also the phrase Had like, not yet quite gone out, of which all that Dr. Webster has to say is, that it seems to be a corruption,-unless, he adds, like be here a noun, and used for resemblance or probability (which it may be safely affirmed that it is not). The to before repute is, apparently, to be defended, if at all, upon the ground that had rather is equivalent in import to would prefer, and that, although it is only an auxiliary before be a villager, it is to be taken as a common verb before to repute. It is true that, as we have seen (1), the to was in a certain stage of the language sometimes inserted, sometimes omitted, both after auxiliaries and after other verbs; but that was hardly the style of Shakespeare's age. We certainly could not now say “I had rather to repute ;” and I do not suppose that any one would have directly so written or spoken then. The irregularity is softened or disguised in the passage before us by the intervening words.

57. Under these hard conditions as.--Here again we have the same use of as that we had in 44; theseas where we should now say such-as, or thosethat. If such, so, as, that (or this) be all etymologically of the same or nearly the same signification, they would naturally, till custom regulated their use, and assigned a distinct function to each, be interchangeable one with another. Thus in 129 we have “ To such a man That is no fleering tell-tale.” Mr. Collier, however, prints, we may presume upon the authority of his MS. corrector, “under such hard conditions."

57. Is like.—This form of expression is not quite, but nearly, gone out. We now commonly say is likely. · 58. I am glad that my weak words.- In this first line of the speech of Cassius and the last of the preceding speech of Brutus we have two hemistichs, having no prosodical connexion. It was never intended that they should form one line, and no torturing can make them do so.

Re-enter Cæsar.-In the original text it is Enter. 60. What hath proceeded.—That is, simply, happened,--a sense which the verb has now lost.

61. I will do so, etc.—Throughout the Play, the ius of Cassius (as also of Lucilius) makes sometimes only one syllable, sometimes two, as here.

62. Being crossed in conference, etc.—If the being and conference be fully enunciated, as they will be in any but the most slovenly reading, we have two supernumerary syllables in this verse, but both so short that neither the mechanism nor the melody of the line is at all impaired by them.

65. Let me have men about me, etc. Some of the expressions in this speech are evidently suggested by those of North in his translation of Plutarch’s Life of Cæsar:—“When Cæsar's friends complained unto him of Antonius and Dolabella, that they pretended

[i.e. intended] some mischief towards him, he answered; As for those fat men and smooth-combed heads (quoth he), I never reckon of them; but these pale-visaged and carrion-lean people, I fear them most; meaning Brutus and Cassius.”

65. Such as sleep o' nights. That is, on nights; as o'clock is on clock, and also as aboard is on board, aside on side, aloft on loft, alive in life, etc. In the older stages of the language the meanings that we now discriminate by on and in are confused, and are both expressed by an, on, un, in, or in composition by the contractions a or 0. The form here in the original text is a-nights.

65. Yond Cassius.—Though yond is no longer in use, we still have both yon and yonder. The d is probably no proper part of the word, but has been added to strengthen the sound, as in the word sound itself (from the French son), and in many other cases. See, upon the origin of Yonder, Dr. Latham's Eng. Lang. 375.

66. Well given.--Although we no longer say absolutely well or ill given (for well or ill disposed), we still say given to study, given to drinking, etc.

67. Yet if my name.-A poetic idiom for “ Yet if I, bearing the name I do.” In the case of Cæsar the name was even more than the representative and most precise expression of the person; it was that in which his power chiefly resided, his renown. Every reader of Milton will remember the magnificent passage (P. L. ii. 964) :

“Behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread
Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned

Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon."

67. Liable to fear. The word liable has been somewhat restricted in its application since Shakespeare's time. We should scarcely now speak of a person as liable to fear. And see 249 for another application of it still farther away from our present usage.

67. Such men as he, etc.—In this and the following line we have no fewer than three archaisms, words or forms which would not and could not be used by a writer of the present day :be (for are), at heart's ease (for in ease of mind), whiles (for while). It would be difficult to show that the language has not in each of these instances lost something which it would have been the better for retaining.

67. For the present Stage Direction at the end of this speech, we have in the original text “ Sennit. Exeunt Cæsar and his Traine."

69. What hath chanced to-day.--So in 71; where, however, most of the modern editions have “what hath chanced,” Mr. Collier's one-volume edition included. Had is the word in all the Folios. Instead of to chance in this sense we now usually say to happen. Chance is a French word (from the case of the Latin casus, strengthened by the common expedient of inserting an n); happen, hap, and also happy, appear to be derivatives from a Welsh word, hap or hab, luck, fortune. The Anglo-Saxon verb was befeallan, from which also we have still to befall.

78. Ay, marry, was't. This term of asseveration, marry, which Johnson seems to speak of as still in

« ПредишнаНапред »