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tion was natural, and the latter was equally applied to the right of exacting a fine for breach of territorial rights, or to the fine, or to the rights themselves. To be in the danger of any one, estre en son danger, came to signify to be in his power, or liable to a penalty to be inflicted by him or at his suit, and hence the ordinary meaning of the word at the present day. We have, in the Merchant of Venice, iv. 1,
You stand within his danger, do you not? From the meaning of penalty or fine, danger came to signify the license obtained to secure exemption from such penalty, or the price paid for such license; and thence the difficulties about giving permission or complying with a request, or absolute refusal. For a fuller history of the word, and for passages illustrating its changes of meaning, see Wedgwood. The Bible Word-Book gives a few additional passages.] 147. The abuse of greatness is, etc.
- The meaning apparently is, " The abuse to which greatness is most subject is when it deadens in its possessor the natural sense of humanity, or of that which binds us to our kind; and this I do not say that it has yet done in the case of Cæsar; I have never known that in him selfish affection, or mere passion, has carried it over reason.” Remorse is generally used by Shakespeare in a wider sense than that to which it is now restricted.
147. But 'tis a common proof. – A thing commonly proved or experienced (what commonly, as we should say, proves to be the case).
A frequent word with Shakespeare for to prove is to approve. Thus, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, v. 4, we have,
O, 'tis the curse in love, and still approved,
When women cannot love where they're beloved. So, in Much Ado About Nothing, we have, in iv. I, an approved wanton,” and afterwards “ Is he not approved in the height a villain?” When Don Pedro in the same Play, ii. 1, describes Benedick as "Cf approved valour," the meaning is merely, that he had proved his valor by his conduct. So in Hamlet, i. 1, Marcellus says, speaking of Horatio and the Ghost,
I have entreated him along
He may approve our eyes, and speak to it; that is, prove our eyes true. And in Meas. for Meas. i.
And there receive her approbation for what we now call probation. This sense of the word (which we still retain in the law-term an approver, in Latin probator) occurs repeatedly both in the Bible and in Milton, and in fact is the most common sense which it has in our earlier English. [Approve is used in the New Testament in two
1. To prove, demonstrate; Acts ii. 22; 2 Cor. vi. 4, vii. II. Compare "approve it with a text,” in Mer. of Venice, iii. 2. 2. To put to the proof, test, try; Rom. ii. 18; Phil. i. 10. So in ist Henry IV. iv. I,
Nay, task me to the word, approve me, lord.] 147. Whereto the climber upward, etc. — There is no hyphen in the original text connecting climber and upward, as there is in some modern editions ; but any doubt as to whether the adverb should be
taken along with climber or with turns might be held to be determined by the expression in Macbeth, 2:
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upwards To what they were before.”
147. The upmost round. The step of a ladder has come to be called a round, I suppose, from its being usually cylindrically shaped. Mr. Knight (whose collation of the old copies is in general so remarkably careful) has here (probably by a typographical error) utmost.
147. The base degrees. — The lower steps of the ladder-les bas degrés (from the Latin gradus) of the French. The epithet base, however, must be understood to express something of contempt, as well as to designate the position of the steps.
147. Then, lest he may, prevent. — We should not now say to prevent lest. But the word prevent continued to convey its original import of to come before more distinctly in Shakespeare's day than it does now. See 161 and 708.
147. Will bear no colour for the thing he is. Will take no appearance of being a just quarrel, if professedly founded upon what Cæsar at present actually is. The use of color, and colorable, in this sense is still familiar.
147. What he is, augmented. What he now is, if augmented or heightened (as it is the nature of things that it should be).
147. Would run to these, etc. To such and such extremities (which we must suppose to be stated and explained). See 109.
147. Think him as. The verb to think has now lost this sense, though we might still say " Think him a serpent's egg,” « Think him good or wicked,” and also " To think a good or evil thought.”
147. As his kind. - Like his species.
147. And kill him in the shell. - It is impossible not to feel the expressive effect of the hemistich here. The line itself is, as it were, killed in the shell.
148. This speech is headed in the Folios “ Enter Lucius." The old stage direction, "Gives him the Letter,” is omitted by most of the modern editors.
149. The ides of March. — The reading of all the ancient copies is, “ the first of March.” It was Theobald who first made the correction, which has been adopted by all succeeding editors (on the ground that the day was actually that of the ides). At the same time, it does not seem to be impossible that the poet may have intended to present a strong image of the absorption of Brutus by making him forget the true time of the month. The reply of Lucius after consulting the Calendar - "Sir, March is wasted fourteen days” sounds very much as if he were correcting rather than confirming his master's notion. Against this view we have the considerations stated by Warburton: “We can never suppose the speaker to have lost fourteen days in his account. He is here plainly ruminating on what the Soothsayer told Cæsar (i. 2) in his presence (Beware the ides of March).” Mr. Collier also prints "the ides;” but the correction does not appear to be made by his MS. annotator. Mr. Knight, I apprehend, must be in error in saying that Shakespeare found “the first of March" in North’s Plutarch: the present incident is not related by Plutarch. [Knight may have referred to this passage in North's Plutarch (Life of Brutus): “Cassius did first of all speak to Brutus, and asked him if he were determined to be in the senate-house, the first day of the month of March, because he heard say that Cæsar's friends should move the Council that day that Cæsar should be called king by the senate,” etc.]
153. Brutus, thou sleep'st; awake. — I have endeavored to indicate by the printing that the second enunciation of these words is a repetition by Brutus to himself, and not, as it is always made to appear, a further portion of the letter. [Collier agrees with Craik; Dyce, Hudson, and White do not.] The letter unquestionably concluded with the emphatic adjuration, " Speak, strike, redress!” It never, after this, would have proceeded to go over the ground again in the same words that had been already used. They would have only impaired the effect, and would have been quite inappropriate in their new place. We see how the speaker afterwards repeats in the like manner each of the other clauses before commenting upon it. 153. Where I have took.
See 46. 153. Speak, strike, redress! - Am I entreated, etc. — The expression is certainly not strengthened by the then which was added to these words by Hanmer, in the notion that it was required by the prosody, and has been retained by Steevens and other modern editors. At the same time Mr. Knight's doctrine, that
such as must be made after redress, stands in the place of a syllable,” will, at any rate, not do here; for we should want two syllables after redress. The best way is to regard the supposed line as being in reality two hemistichs; or to treat the words repeated from the letter as no part of the verse.
How otherwise are we to manage the preceding quotation, “Shall Rome, etc." ? [See 54, 55.]
153. I make thee promise. -I inake promise to thee. In another connection, the words might mean