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211. To keep with you, etc. To keep company with
you. To keep in the sense of to live or dwell is of constant occurrence in our old writers; and Nares observes that they still say in the University of Cambridge, Where do you keep? I keep in such a set of chambers. We sometimes hear it asserted that the word comfort, as well as the thing, is exclusively English. But it is also an old French word, though bearing rather the sense of our law term to comfort, which is to relieve, assist, or encourage. And it exists, also, both in the Italian and in the Spanish. Its origin is an ecclesiastical Latin verb conforto (from con and fortis), meaning to strengthen.
[The Hebrew word rendered comfort in Job ix. 27 and x. 30, is translated “ to recover strength,” Ps. xxxix. 13, and “strengthen," Amos v. 9. In the truce between England and Scotland in the reign of Richard III. it was provided that neither of the kings “shall maintayne, fauour, ayde, or comfort any rebell or treytour” (Hall, Rich. III.), and shortly after we read, “ King Charles promised him aide and comfort, and bad him
to be of good courage and to make good chere." In Wiclif's Bible, Isa. xli. 7, we have, “And he coum fortide hym with nailes, that it shoulde not be moued.” And in Phil. iv. 13, “I may alle thingis in him that comfortith me." See Bible WordBook.]
211. And talk to you sometimes, etc. The true prosodical view of this line is to regard the two combinations “ to you” and “ in the” as counting each for only a single syllable. It is no more an Alexandrine than it is an hexameter.
212. [As dear to me, etc. — Gray has adopted these words in The Bard:
Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart.
Some critics see here an anticipation of Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood.]
213. [A woman well reputed, etc. Staunton punctuates thus: “A woman, well-reputed Cato's daughter;" that is, a woman, daughter of the muchesteemed Cato. Few readers, I think, will approve the emendation.]
213. Being so fathered and so husbanded. - We have here two exemplifications of the remarkable power which our language possesses (though a consequence of its poverty of inflection, or of the loss of their distinctive terminations by the infinitive and present indicative of the verb) of turning almost any noun, upon occasion, into a verb. It
be called its most kingly prerogative, and may be compared to the right of ennobling exercised by the crown in the English political constitution, — the more, inasmuch as words too, as well as men, were originally, it is probable, all of equal rank, and the same word served universally as noun at one time and as verb at another. Most of our verbs that are of purely English or Gothic descent are still in their simplest form undistinguishable from nouns. The noun and the verb might be exhibited together in one system of inflection ; father, for instance, might be at once declined and conjugated, through fathered, and fathering, and have fathered, and will father, and all the other moods and tenses, as well as through fathers and father's, and of a father, and to a father, and the other so called nominal changes. It is to this their identity of form with the noun that our English verbs owe in a great measure their peculiar force and liveliness of expression, consisting as that does in their power of setting before us, not merely the fact that something has been done or is doing, but the act or process itself as a concrete thing or picture. Shakespeare in particular freely employs any noun whatever as a verb.
It is interesting to note the germ of what we have here in The Merchant of Venice (i. 2):
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia. The Merchant of Venice had certainly been written by 1598.
213. I have made strong proof. — The prosody • concurs here with the sense in demanding a strong emphasis upon the word strong.
214. All the charactery. — All that is charactered or expressed by my saddened aspect. The word, which occurs also in the Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5, is accented on the second syllable there as well as here. And no doubt this was also the original, as it is still the vulgar, accentuation of character. Shakespeare, however, always accents that word on the char-, as we do, whether he uses it as a noun or as a verb; though a doubt may
be entertained as to the pronunciation of the participial form both in the line, “ Are visibly charactered and engraved,” in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, ii. 7, and in the “ Show me one scar charactered on the skin” of 2 Henry VI. iii. 1, as well as with regard to that of the compound which occurs in Troilus and Cressida, iii. 2:
And mighty states characterless are grated
To dusty nothing. - The stage direction near the beginning of this speech is merely Knock in the original edition.
214. Lucius, who's that knocks.?. Who is that who knocks? The omission of the relative is a familiar ellipsis. See 34. Who's and not who is, is
the reading of all the Folios. It is unnecessary to suppose that the two broken lines were intended to make a whole between them. They are best regarded as distinct hemistichs. [See 54, 55.]
217. The Lig. (for Ligarius) is Cai. throughout in the original text. The authority for the prænomen Caius, by which Ligarius is distinguished throughout the Play, is Plutarch, in his Life of Brutus, towards the beginning.
218. To wear a kerchief.- Kerchief is coverchief, the chief being the French chef, head (from the Latin Cap-ut, which is also the same word with the English Head and the German Haupt). But, the proper import of chief being forgotten or neglected, the name kerchief came to be given to any cloth used as a piece of dress. In this sense the word is still familiar in handkerchief, though both kerchief itself and its other compound neckerchief are nearly gone out. In King John, iv. I, and also in As You Like It, iv. 3 and v. 2, the word in the early editions is handkercher; and this is likewise the form in the Quarto edition of Othello. [In Chaucer we have sometimes the forın keverchef, or coverchief (Tyrwhitt), as in C. T. Prol. 455:
Here keverchefs weren ful fyne of ground.
Dunbar.] 221. Thou, like an exorcist. Mason, “ and in all other places where the word occurs in Shakespeare, to exorcise means to raise spirits, not to lay them; and I believe he is singular in his acceptation of it.” The only other instances of its occurrence, according to Mrs. Clarke, are, in the Song in Cymbeline, iv. 2:
66 Here,” says
No exorciser harm thee!
in All's. Well that Ends Well, v. 3, where, on the appearance of Helena, thought to be dead, the King exclaims, –
Is there no exorcist Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes? and in 2 Henry VI. i. 4, where Bolingbroke asks, “ Will her ladyship behold and hear our exorcisms?' meaning the incantations and other operations by which they were to raise certain spirits. In Mr. Collier's regulated text, in this speech, at the words “ Soul of Rome,” we have the stage direction, Throwing away his bandage.”
221. My mortified spirit. — Mor-ti-fi-ed here makes four syllables, spirit counting for only one. And mortified has its literal meaning of deadened.
224. As we are going To whom it must be done. While we are on our way to those whom it must be done to. The ellipsis is the same as we have in 105, “ From that it is disposed.” I do not understand how the words are to be interpreted if we are to separate going from what follows by a comma, as is done in most editions.
225. Set on your foot. — This was probably a somewhat energetic or emphatic mode of expression. In Scotland they say, “ Put down your foot” in exhorting one to walk on briskly. At the end of this speech the old copies have Thunder as a stage direction.
A Room in Cæsar's PalThis is not in the old editions; but the stage direction that follows is, only with Julius Cæsar (for Cæsar).