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87. If the tag-rag people. - In Coriolanus, iii. I, we have “ Will you hence, before the tag return.” “ This,” says Nares, “is, perhaps, the only instance of tag without his companions rag and bobtail, or at least one of them. [The expression “tag and rag” is old in English poetry. Collier quotes from John Partridge, 1566:
To walles they goe, both tagge and ragge,
Their citie to defende.] 87. No true man. - No honest man, as we should now say. Jurymen, as Malone remarks, are still styled “good men and true.”
89. He plucked me ope his doublet. – Though we still use to ope in poetry, ope as an adjective is now obsolete. As for the me in such a phrase as the present, it may be considered as being in the same predicament with the my in My Lord, or the mon in the French Monsieur. That is to say, it has no proper pronominal significancy, but merely serves (in so far as it has any effect) to enliven or otherwise grace the expression. How completely the pronoun is forgotten, - or we may say, quiescent- in such a case as that of Monsieur is shown by the common phrase " Mon cher monsieur.” See 205 and 470.
The best commentary on the use of the pronoun that we have here is the dialogue between Petrucio and his servant Grumio, in Tam. of Shrew, i. 2: “ Pet. Villain, I say, knock me here soundly. Gru. Knock you here, sir? Why, sir, what am I, sir, that I should knock you here, sir? Pet. Villain, I say, knock me at this gate, and rap me well, or I'll knock your knave's pate. Gru. My master is grown quarreisome: I should knock you first, And then I know after who comes by the worst. Hortensio. How now, what's the matter? ... Gru. Look you, sir,
he bid me knock him, and rap him soundly, sir : Well, was it fit for a servant to use his master so?
Pet. A senseless villain ! - Good Hortensio, I bade the rascal knock upon your gate, And could not get him for my heart to do it. Gru. Knock at the gate? - O heavens! Spake you not these words plain, - Sirrah, knock me here, Rap me here, knock me well, and knock me soundly?' And come you now with — knocking at the gate?”
89. A man of any occupation. — This is explained by Johnson as meaning “a mechanic, one of the plebeians to whom he offered his throat.” But it looks as if it had more in it than that. In the Folios it is - and I had been a man ;” and again in 95 "and I tell you.” So also Bacon writes (Essay 23d), Certainly it is the nature of extreme selflovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs;” and (Essay 4oth), “ For time is to be honoured and respected, and it were but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation.”
[And or an for if is very common in old writers. " And why, sire,” quod I, “and yt like you.”
Chaucer, Legend of Good Women, 319.
Piers Ploughman's Vis. 11849.
Latimer, Sermons. I pray thee, Launce, and if thou seest my boy.
Two Gent. of Verona, iii. 1. See also Matthew xxiv. 48.
Horne Tooke derives an from the Saxon unnan, to grant, as he does if (gif in Old English) from
gifan, to give ; and this etymology is adopted in the last revision of Webster's Dict. Wedgwood, on the other hand, regards the word as a fragment of even, and Marsh, in his edition of Wedgwood, allows this derivation and the long disquisition upon it, to pass without comment. See also Richardson's Dict., and the Bible Word-Book.]
95. Marullus and Flavius. - In this instance the Marullus is Murrellus in the First Folio (instead of Murellus, as elsewhere).
97. I am promised forth. - An old phrase for, I have an engagement.
102. He was quick mettle. - This is the reading of all the old copies. I have allowed the distinction made by the modern editors between metal and mettle to stand throughout the Play, although the latter form is merely a corruption of the former. In the First Folio it is always mettle; in 16 and 105, as well as here and in 177 and 505.
103. However he puts on. — We should hardly now use however, in this sense, with the indicative mood. We should have to say, 6 However he may put on.”—This tardy form: this shape, semblance, of tardiness or dulness. 104. I will come home to you Come home to
To come home to one, for to come to one's house, is another once common phrase which is now gone out of use.
105. Think of the world. — The only meaning that this can have seems to be, Think of the state in which the world is.
105. From that it is disposed. - Here we have the omission, not only of the relative, which can easily be dispensed with, but also of the preposition governing it, which is an essential part of the verb;
but, illegitimate as such syntax may be, it is common with our writers down to a date long subsequent to Shakespeare's age. See 224.
105. Therefore it is meet. - It is (instead of 'tis) is the reading of the First Folio, which has been restored by Mr. Knight. [So Dyce.] The excess here is of a syllable (the fore of therefore) not quite so manageable as usual, and it makes the verse move ponderously, if we must not say halt; but perhaps such a prosody may be thought to be in accordance with the grave and severe spirit of the passage.
105. With their likes. — We scarcely use this substantive now.
105. Cæsar doth bear me hard. — Evidently an old phrase for, does not like me, bears me a grudge. It occurs again in 199, and a third time in 344. In 199, and there only, the editor of the Second Folio has changed hard into hatred, in which he has been followed by the Third and Fourth Folios, and also by Rowe, Pope, Hanmer, and even Capel. Mr. Collier's MS. annotator restores the hard. It is remarkable that the expression, meeting us so often in this one Play, should be found nowhere else in Shakespeare. Nor have the commentators been able to refer to an instance of its occurrence in
[Staunton considers the phrase "equivalent, literally, to keeps a tight rein upon me, and metaphorically, to does not trust me, or fears, or doubts me.” In 199 Dyce, Hudson, and White have hard.] 105. He should not humour me.
The meaning seems to be, If I were in his position (a favorite with Cæsar), and he in mine (disliked by Cæsar), he should not cajole, or turn and wind, me, as I now do him. He and me are to be contrasted by the emphasis, in the same manner as I and he in the preceding line. This is Warburton's explanation ; whose remark, however, that the words convey a reflection on Brutus's ingratitude, seems unfounded. It is rather Brutus's simplicity that Cassius has in his mind. It would be more satisfactory, however, if other examples could be produced of the use of the verb to humor in the sense assumed. Johnson appears to have quite mistaken the meaning of the passage : he takes the he to be, not Brutus, but Cæsar; and his interpretation is, “his (that is, Cæsar's) love should not take hold of my affection, so as to make me forget my principles.” 105. In several hands.
Writings in several hands.
105. Let Cæsar seat him sure. — - Seat himself firmly (as on horseback).
SCENE III. - The heading of Scene III. in the old copies is only “ Thunder and Lightning. Enter Casca, and Cicero."
106. Brought you Cæsar home? - Bring, which is now ordinarily restricted to the sense of carrying hither (so that we cannot say, Bring there), was formerly used in that of carrying or conveying generally. To bring one on his way, for instance, was to accompany him even if he had been leaving the speaker. So “ Brought you Cæsar home?” is, Did you go home with Cæsar? [Compare Genesis xviii. 16; Acts xxi. 5; Romans xv. 24.] To fetch, again, seems always to have meant more than to bring or
G A horse cannot fetch, but only carry," says Launce in The Two Gent. of Ver. iii. 1.
107. All the sway of earth. - That is, the balanced swing of earth.