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probably, as if by chance, without any visible cause why he in particular should be struck down or taken off; or there may be an allusion to the process of decimation.
177. Than secret Romans. Romans bound to secrecy:
177. And will not palter ? To palter means to shuffle, to equivocate, to act or speak unsteadily or dubiously with the intention to deceive. It is best explained by the well-known passage in Macbeth (v.7): –
And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
And break it to our hope. 177. Or we will fall for it? - Will die for it. 177. Men cautelous.
Cautelous is given to cautels, full of cautels. A cautel, from the Roman law-term cautela (a caution, or security), is mostly used in a discreditable sense by our old English writers. The caution has passed into cunning in their acceptation of the word; it was natural that caution should be popularly so estimated ; - and by cautels they commonly mean craftinesses, deceits. Thus we have in Hamlet (i. 3),
And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of his will. And in the passage before us cautelous is cautious and wary at least to the point of cowardice, if not to that of insidiousness and trickery.
177. Old feeble carrions. — Carrions, properly masses of dead and putrefying flesh, is a favorite term of contempt with Shakespeare.
177. Such suffering souls, etc. - See the note on that gentleness as in 44. In the present speech we
have both the old and the new phraseology ;
- such ... that in one line, and such ... as in the next. Suffering souls are patient, all-enduring souls.
177. The even virtue of our enterprise. The even virtue is the firm and steady virtue. The our is emphatic.
177. Nor the insuppressive mettle. — The keenness and ardor incapable of being suppressed (however illegitimate such a form with that sense may be thought to be). So we have in As You Like It (iii. 2), “ The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she." And even Milton has (Lycidas, 176), “ And hears the unexpressive nuptial song." [So “ With unexpressive notes," Hymn on the Nativ. 116.]- For mettle see 102.
177. To think that. That is, so as to think.
177. Is guilty of a several bastardy. — The etymology of the word bastard is uncertain. Shakespeare probably took his notion of what it radically expressed from the convertible phrase base-born. Thus, in Lear, i. 2, Edmund soliloquizes — “Why bastard? Wherefore base?” By a several bastardy here is meant a special or distinct act of baseness, or of treason against ancestry and honorable birth. For several see 443.
178. But what of Cicero? etc. — Both the prosody and the sense direct us to lay the emphasis on him. 178. He will stand very strong.
He will take part with us decidedly and warmly. 181. It shall be said, his judgment, etc.
- Dr. Guest, in the paper “On English Verbs," in the Second Volume of the Proceedings of the Philological Society, which has been already referred to, adduces some examples to show that the primary sense of shall is to owe. Hence the use of should,
which is still common in the sense of ought. use of shall to denote future time,” Dr. Guest continues, “
be traced to a remote antiquity in our language; that of will is of much later origin, and prevailed chiefly in our northern dialects. — Writers, however, who paid much attention to their style, generally used these terms with greater precision. The assertion of will or of duty seems to have been considered by them as implying to a certain extent the power to will or to impose a duty. As a man has power to will for himself only, it was only in the first person that the verb will could be used with this signification; and in the other persons it was left free to take that latitude of meaning which popular usage had given to it. Again, the
it. Again, the power which overrides the will to impose a duty must proceed from some external
consequently shall could not be employed to denote such power in the first person. In the first person, therefore, it was left free to follow the popular meaning, but in the other two was tied to its original and more precise signification. These distinctions still continue a shibboleth for the natives of the two sister kingdoms. Walter Scott, as is well known to his readers, could never thoroughly master the difficulty."
In the Third Edition of Dr. Latham's English Language, pp. 470-474, may be found two other explanations; the first by the late Archdeacon Julius Charles Hare (from the Cambridge Philological Museum, II. 203), the second by Professor De Morgan (from the Proceedings of the Philological Society, iv. 185; No. 90, read 25th Jan. 1850). [See also additional remarks
the Fifth Edition of Latham's work, pp. 624-626. Compare Marsh, Lectures, First Series, p. 659.]
The manner of using shall and will which is now
so completely established in England, and which throughout the greater part of the country is so perfectly uniform among all classes, was as yet only growing up in the early part of the seventeenth century. This was very well shown some years ago by a writer in Blackwood's Magazine, by comparing many passages of the authorized version of the Scriptures, published in 1611, with the same passages in the preceding translation, called the Bishops' Bible, which had appeared in 1568. The old use of shall, instead of will, to indicate simple futurity, with the second and third persons, as well as with the first, is still common with Shakespeare. Here, in this and the next line, are two instances : “It shall be said ; “Shall no whit appear.” So afterwards we have, in 187, “ This shall mark our purpose necessary ;
in 238, “ Cæsar should be a beast without a heart; 350, 6. The enemies of Cæsar shall say this ; in 619, “ The enemy, marching along by them, By them shall make a fuller number up.” We have occasionally the same use of shall even in Clarendon : “Whilst there are Courts in the world, emulation and ambition will be inseparable from them; and kings who have nothing to give shall be pressed to promise” (Hist., Book xiii). In some rare instances the received text of Shakespeare gives us will where we should now use shall; as when Portia says, in The Merchant of Venice, iii. 4, —
I'll hold thee any wager,
I'll prove the prettier fellow of the two.
181. Shall no whit appear. Whit is the Saxon wiht, anything that exists, a creature. It is the same word with wight, which we now use only for a man,.
in the same manner as we have come in the language of the present day to understand creature almost exclusively in the sense of a living creature, although it was formerly used freely for everything created, as when Bacon says (Essay of Truth), “The first creature of God, in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and his Sabbath work ever since is the illumination of his spirit;” or (Adv. of Learning, B. i.), “The wit and mind of man, if it work upon matter, which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited thereby;” or as it is written in our authorized version of the Scriptures (1 Tim. iv. 4), “Every creature of God (Trão xtidua @sou) is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” We have creature used in this extensive sense even by so late a writer as the Scotch metaphysician Dr. Reid (who died in 1796), in his Inquiry into the Human Mind, ch. I, first published in 1764: “Conjectures and theories are the creatures of men, and will always be found very unlike the creatures of God.”. No whit is not anything, nowhat, not at all. And our modern not (anciently nought) is undoubtedly no whit: how otherwise is the t to be accounted for? So that our English “I do not speak,”—I do no whit speak, is an exactly literal translation of the French 4e ne parle pas (or point), which many people believe to contain a double negative.
182. Let us not break with him. That is, Let us not break the matter to him. This is the sense in which the idiom to break with is most frequently found in Shakespeare. Thus, in Much Ado About Nothing (i. I), the Prince, Don Pedro, says to his favorite Don Claudio, “ If thou dost love fair Hero,