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Knight has restored, after their had been turned into our by the last century editors (Malone included), not only unnecessarily and unwarrantably, but also without notice. [Collier, Dyce, Hudson, and White have their.]
336. With the most boldest. — In the old version of the Psalms we are familiar with the form the most Highest; and even in the authorized translation of the Bible we have, in Acts xxvi. 5, “the most straitest sect of our religion.” Nor is there anything intrinsically absurd in such a mode,of expression. If we are not satisfied to consider it as merely an intensified superlative, we may say that the most boldest should mean those who are boldest among the boldest. So again in 425, “ This was the most unkindest cut of all.” In most cases, however, the double superlative must be regarded as intended merely to express the extreme degree more emphatically. Double comparatives are very common in Shakespeare.
338. Say, I love Brutus. – Mr. Knight has, apparently by a typographical error, “I lov'd.”
338. May safely come to him, and be resolved. That is, have his perplexity or uncertainty removed. We might still say, have his doubts resolved. But we have lost the more terse form of expression, by which the doubt was formerly identified with the doubter. So again, in 425, Cæsar's blood is described by Antony as
rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knocked or no; and in 505 Brutus, referring to Cassius, asks of Lucilius, “ How he received you, let me be resolved." [See heading of chaps. x. and xii. of Mark's Gospel.] Mr. Collier's MS. annotator appends the stage direction “Kneeling” to the first line of this speech, and “Rising” to the last.
338. [Thorough the hazards. Thorough (or thorow, as it is sometimes spelt) and through are the same word; as also are thoroughly and throughly. Shakespeare used both forms, as the following examples will show:
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough briar,
Mid. N.'s Dream, ii. 1.
How he glisters Thorough my rust! — Winter's Tale, iii. 2. See also 709. Examples of through need not be given. See 425, 458, etc. I am informed throughly of the case.
Mer. of Ven., iv. 1. You scarce can right me throughly, etc.
Winter's Tale, ii. 1.
I'll be revenged
Coriolanus, i. 1. Compare also Bacon, Essay 5th -- " that saileth, in the fraile barke of the flesh, thorow the waves of the world.” Also, Essay 57th — “to looke backe upon anger, when the fitt is throughly over.”
In Numbers xxviii. 29, we have thorowout for throughout, in the edition of 1611. And in the Mer. of Ven. ii. 7, we have yet another of these old forms:
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
339. Tell him, so please him come unto this place. For the meaning of so here, see the note on “ So with love I might entreat you,” in 57. There is an ellipsis of the usual nominative (it) before the impersonal verb (please); and the infinitive come also wants the customary prefix to. [See on 1.] “ So please him come” is equivalent to If it please (or may please) him to come.
341. I know that we shall have him well to friend. - So in Cymbeline, i. 5, Iachimo says, “ Had I admittance and opportunity to friend.” So Macbeth (iii. 3), “What I can redress, As I shall find the time to friend, I will.” Even in Clarendon we have, “ For the King had no port to friend by which he could bring ammunition to Oxford,” etc. Hist., Book vii. To friend is equivalent to for friend. So we say To take to wife. The German form of to (zu) is used in a somewhat similar manner: Das wird mich zu eurem Freunde machen (That will make me your friend). In the Winter's Tale, v. 1, we have “ All greetings that a King at friend Can send his brother.” [Compare Matthew iii. 9, Luke iii. 8: “We have Abraham to our father,” etc.]
342. Falls shrewdly to the purpose. — The purpose is the intention; to the purpose is according to the intention, as away from the purpose, or beside the purpose, is without any such coincidence or conformity; and to fall shrewdly to the purpose may be explained as being to fall with mischievous sharpness and felicity of aim upon that which it is sought to hit. See 186.
343. The original heading is "Enter Antony."
344. O mighty Cæsar! dost thou lie so low? Mr. Collier states in his Notes and Emendations, p. 400, that a stage direction of his MS. annotator requires Antony, on his entrance with this line, to kneel over the body, and to rise when he comes to “I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,” etc.
344. Who else is rank. · Is of too luxuriant growth, too fast-spreading power in the commonwealth.
344. Nor no instrument. — Here the double nego ative, while it occasions no ambiguity, is palpably much more forcible than either and no or nor any would have been.
344. Of half that worth as. - See 44.
344. I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard. See note on Bear me hard in 105. — The present line affords a remarkable illustration of how completely the old declension of the personal pronoun of the second person has become obliterated in our modern English. Milton, too, almost always has ye in the accusative. Thus (Par. Lost, x. 462) — “I call ye, and declare ye now, returned, Successful beyond hope, to lead ye forth,” etc. In the original form of the language ye (ge) is always nominative, and you (eów) accusative; being the very reverse of what we have here. 344. Live a thousand
years. Suppose I live; If I live; Should I live. But, although the suppression of the conditional conjunction is common and legitimate enough, that of the pronoun, or nominative to the verb, is hardly so defensible. The feeling probably was that the I in the next line might serve for both verbs.
344. So apt to die. — Apt is properly fit, or suited, generally, as here. So formerly they said to apt in the sense both of to adapt and of to agree. I
apprehend, however, that such an expression as apt to die
(for ready or prepared to die) would have been felt in any stage of the language to involve an unusual extension of the meaning of the word, sounding about as strange as aptus ad moriendum would do in Latin. We now, at all events, commonly understand the kind of suitableness or readiness implied in apt as being only that which consists in inclination, or addictedness, or mere liability. Indeed, we usually say disposed or inclined in cases in which apt was the customary word in the English of the last century; as in Smollett's Count Fathom, vol. ii. ch. 27, “I am apt to believe it is the voice of heaven.” Ву the substantive aptitude, again, we mostly understand an active fitness. The word apte was wont to be not much used in French ; some of the dictionaries do not notice it; Richelet characterizes it as obsolete ; adding, on the authority of Father Bouhours, that the noun aptitude is occasionally employed, although not considered to belong to the Court language. Like many other old-fashioned words, however, this has been revived by recent writers. Such expressions as “On est apte à juger," " meaning "One has no difficulty in concluding," are common in modern books. [Compare 2 Kings xxiv. 16; 1 Tim. iii. 2; 2 Tim. ii. 24. See also Graham, English Synonymes, s. v.]
344. As here, by Cæsar and by you, cut off. ' We may resolve the ellipsis by saying " as to be," or 166 as being cut off.” And " by Cæsar” is, of course, beside Cæsar: “ by you,” through your act or instrumentality. A play of words, as it is called, was by no means held in Shakespeare's day to be appropriate only to sportive writing, -any more than was any other species of verbal artifice or ornament, such, for instance, as alliteration, or rhyme, or verse itself.