Графични страници
PDF файл

107. Have rived. We have nearly lost this form, which is the one Shakespeare uses in the only two passages in which (if we may trust to Mrs. Clarke) the past participle passive of the verb to rive is found in his works. The other is also in this Play :-"Brutus hath rived my heart," in 554. Milton, again, has our modern riven in the only passage of his poetry in which any part of the verb to rive occurs :-(P. L. vi. 449), “His riven arms to havoc hewn.”

107. To be exalted with.—That is, in order, or in the effort, to be raised to the same height with.

107. A tempest dropping fire. In the original text these three words are joined together by hyphens.

107. A civil strife in heaven.—A strife in which one part of heaven wars with another.

108. Any thing more wonderful.- That is, anything more that was wonderful. So in Coriolanus, iv. 6:

“ The slave's report is seconded, and more,

More fearful, is delivered.”

109. You know him well by sight.-Is it to be supposed that Casca really means to say that the common slave whom he chanced to meet was a particular individual well known to Cicero ? Of what importance could that circumstance be? Or for what purpose should Casca notice it, even supposing him to have been acquainted with the fact that Cicero knew the man well, and yet knew him only by sight? It is impossible not to suspect some interpolation or corruption. Perhaps the true reading may be, “ you knew him well by sight,” meaning that any one would have known him at once to be but a common slave (notwithstanding the preternatural appearance, as if almost of something godlike, which his uplifted hand exhibited, burning but unhurt).

109. Besides (I have not since, etc.-In the Folios “I ha' not since.”

109. Against the Capitol.m-Over against, opposite to.

109. Who glared upon me.-In all the Folios the word is glazed. Pope first changed it to glared. Malone afterwards substituted gazed, partly on the strength of a passage in Stowe's Chronicle,—which gave Steevens an opportunity of maliciously rejoining, after quoting other instances of Shakespeare's use of glare ;-“I therefore continue to repair the poet with his own animated phraseology, rather than with the cold expression suggested by the narrative of Stowe; who, having been a tailor, was undoubtedly equal to the task of mending Shakespeare's hose, but, on poetical emergencies, must not be allowed to patch his dialogue.” Glared is also the correction of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator. The only other instance known of the use of glazed, in apparently the sense which it would have here, is one produced by Boswell, from King James's translation of the Urania of Du Bartas : “I gave a lusty glaise.” Boswell adds that “Du Bartas's original affords us no assistance.”.

109. Drawn upon a heap.—Gathered together in a heap, or crowd. “ Among this princely heap,” says Gloster in King Richard III., ii. 1. Heap was in common use in this sense throughout the seventeenth century.

109. The bird of night. The owl; as the “ bird of dawning” (the cock) in Hamlet, i. 1.

109. Hooting and shrieking. Howting is the word in the first three folios, houting in the Fourth.

109. Even at noonday, etc.-There may be a question as to the prosody of this line ; whether we are to count even a monosyllable and throw the accent upon day, or, making even a dissyllable and accenting noon, to reckon day supernumerary.

109. These are their reasons, etc.--That such and such are their reasons. It is the same form of expression that we have afterwards in 147 :-“Would run to these and these extremities.” But the present line has no claim to either a distinctive type or inverted commas. It is not as if it were “ These are our reasons.” Is it possible that Mr. Collier can hold the new reading which he gives us in his one volume edition, probably on the authority of his MS. annotator, “ These are their seasons," to be what Shakespeare really wrote ? This is their season might have been conceivable ; but who ever heard it remarked of any description of phenomena that these are their seaSons?

109. Unto the climate.--The region of the earth, according to the old geographical division of the globe into so many Climates, which had no reference, or only an accidental one, to differences of temperature.

110. A strange-disposed time. We should now have to use the adverb in this kind of combination. If we still say strange-shaped, it is because there we seem to have a substantive for the adjective to qualify ; just as we have in high-mind-ed, strong-mind-ed, ablebodi-ea, and other similar forms. In other cases, again, it is the adjective, and not the adverb, that enters into the composition of the verb; thus we say strangelooking, mad-looking, heavy-looking, etc., because the verb is to look strange, etc., not to look strangely

(which has quite another meaning). Foreign-built may be regarded as an irregular formation, occasioned probably by our having no such adverb as foreignly. Even in home-built the adverb home has a meaning (at home) which it never has when standing alone.

110. Clean from the purpose.—A use of clean (for completely) now come to be accounted inelegant, though common in the translation of the Bible. “ From the purpose” is away from the purpose.

112. The metre of this speech stands, or rather hobbles, thus in the original edition :

“Good-night then, Caska :
This disturbed Skie is not to walke in."

117. Your ear is good, etc.—The old copies have “ What night is this ?” But, notwithstanding the supernumerary short syllable, the only possible reading seems to be the one which I have given;“ Cassius, what a night is this !” The a is plainly indispensable ; for surely Casca cannot be supposed to ask what day of the month it is. What he says can only be understood as an exclamation, similar to that of Cinna, in 135: “ What a fearful night is this !” As for the slight irregularity in the prosody, it is of perpetual occurrence. Thus, only thirty lines lower down (in 122) we have an instance of it produced exactly as here :-“ Name to thee a man most like this dreadful night.” And so again in 155:-“ Are then in council ; and the state of a man."

120. So full of faults.—The word fault, formerly, though often signifying no more than it now does, carried sometimes (as here) a much greater weight of meaning than we now attach to it. Conf. 143.

120. The thunder-stone.—The thunder-stone is the imaginary produce of the thunder, which the ancients called Brontia, mentioned by Pliny (N. H. xxxvii. 10) as a species of gem, and as that which, falling with the lightning, does the mischief. It is the fossil commonly called the Belemnite, or Finger-stone, and now known to be a shell. We still talk of the thunderbolt, which, however, is commonly confounded with the lightning. The thunder-stone was held to be quite distinct from the lightning, as may be seen from the song of Guiderius and Arviragus in Cymbeline, iv. 2.

Guid. Fear no more the lightning-flash.

Aro. Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone."

122. You are dull, etc.—The commencement of this speech is a brilliant specimen of the blank verse of the original edition :

“You are dull, Caska :
And those sparkes of Life, that should be in a Roman,
You doe want, or else you use not.
You looke pale, and gaze, and put on feare,
And cast your selfe in wonder,
To see,” etc.

122. Cast yourself in wonder.Does this mean throw yourself into a paroxysm of wonder? Or may cast yourself mean cast your self, or your mind, about, as in idle conjecture ? The Commentators are mute. Shakespeare sometimes has in where we should now use into. In an earlier stage of the language, the distinction now established between in and into was constantly disregarded; and in some idiomatic expressions, the radical fibres of a national speech, we still

« ПредишнаНапред »