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instance, as the disgrace or infamy), from which that was to be conceived as separated.
The use of merely here is in exact accordance with that of mere in Othello, ii. 2, where the Herald proclaims the tidings of what he calls “the mere perdition of the Turkish fleet” (that is, the entire perdition or destruction). In Helena's “ Ay, surely, mere the truth,” in All's Well that Ends Well, iii. 5, mere would seem to have the sense of merely (that is, simply, exactly), if there be no misprint.
Attention to such changes of import or effect, slight as they may seem, which many words have undergone, is indispensable for the correct understanding of our old writers. Their ignorance of the old sense of this same word merely has obscured a passage in Bacon to his modern editors. In his 58th Essay, entitled “Of Vicissitudes of Things," he says, “As for conflagrations and great droughts, they do not merely dispeople and destroy" — meaning, as the train of the reasoning clearly requires, that they do not altogether do so. Most of the editors (Mr. Montague included) have changed " and destroy” into “but destroy ;” others leave out the
" before merely; either change being subversive of the meaning of the passage and inconsistent with the context. [Spedding and Ellis's edition has and; Whately's, but.] The reading of the old copies is confirmed by the Latin translation, aone under Bacon's own superintendence: “Illæ populum penitus non absorbent aut destruunt.”
So in the 3d Essay, “Of Unity in Religion,” when we are told that extremes would be avoided " if the points fundamental and of substance in religion were truly discerned and distinguished from points not merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or
good intention,” the meaning is, from points not altogether of faith, — not, were distinguished not only from points of faith, as a modern reader would be to understand it.
45. Passions of some difference. — The meaning seems to be, of some discordance, somewhat conflicting passions. So we have, a few lines after, poor Brutus, with himself at war.”
45. Conceptions only proper to myself.— Thoughts and feelings relating exclusively to myself. [See 12.]
my behaviours. — We have lost this plural. But we still say, though with some difference of meaning, both “My manner and “My manners.”
45. Be you one. - There are various kinds of being, or of existing. What is here meant is, Be in your belief and assurance; equivalent to, Rest assured that you are.
45. Nor construe any further my neglect. — Further is the word in the old copies; but Mr. Collier, I observe, in his one volume edition prints farther. [Dyce and Hudson, further; White, as elsewhere, farther.] It is sometimes supposed that, as farther answers to far, so further answers to forth. But far and forth, or fore, are really only different forms of the same word, different corruptions or modernizations of the Saxon feor or forth. [Far, both adjective and adverb, is from the Saxon feor. Further is from furthre, furthor, comparative of forth, furth. Farther is a modern variation of further, suggested of course by far, and is the form preferred by many writers to express distance. See Graham, English Synonymes (Amer. ed.), and note the illustrative passages under these words.]
46. I have much mistook your passion. - That is, the feeling under which you are suffering. Pa
tience and passion (both from the Latin patior) equally mean suffering; the notions of quiet and of agitation which they have severally acquired, and which have made the common signification of the one almost the opposite of that of the other, are merely accidental adjuncts. It may be seen, however, from the use of the word passion here and in the preceding speech, that its proper meaning was not so completely obscured and lost sight of in Shakespeare's day as it has come to be in ours, when it retains the notion of suffering only in two or three antique expressions, such as, the iliac passion, and the passion of our Saviour (with Passion Week). — Though it is no longer accounted correct
I have mistook, or I have wrote, such forms were in common use even till far on in the last century. Nor has the analogy of the reformed manner of expression been yet completely carried out. In some cases we have even lost the more correct form after having once had it: we no longer, for instance, say, I have stricken, as they did in Shakespeare's day, but only, I have struck.
47. But by reflection, etc.— The “ other things must, apparently, if we interpret the words with reference to their connection, be the reflectors or mirrors spoken of by Cassius. Taken by itself, however, the expression might rather seem to mean that the discovers its own existence by its power of seeing other things. The verse in the present speech is thus ingeniously broken up in the original edition :
No Cassius :
By some other things.
and possibly some words have dropped out. “ By reflection, by some other things,” is hardly Shakespeare's style. It is not customary with him to employ a word which he finds it necessary thus to attempt immediately to amend, or supplement, or explain, by another. It is remarkable that in the first line of this speech the three last Folios turn the itself into himself. [White reads "thing."]
There is a remarkable coincidence, both of thought and of expression, between what we have here and the following passage in Troilus and Cressida, iii. 3:
Nor doth the eye itself, That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself. And it may be worth noting that these lines appear only in the two original Quarto editions of the Play (1609), and are not in any of the Folios.
48. Many of the best respect. — A lost phrase, no longer permissible even in poetry, although our only modern equivalent is the utterly unpoetical “ many persons of the highest respectability.” So, again, in the present Play, we have in 779, “ Thou art a fellow of a good respect.”
50. Therefore, good Brutus, etc. — The eager, impatient temper of Cassius, absorbed in his own one idea, is vividly expressed by his thus continuing his argument as if without appearing to have even heard Brutus's interrupting question ; for such is the only interpretation which his therefore would seem to admit of.
50. And be not jealous on me. This is the read ing of all the Folios; and it has been restored to the text by Mr. Knight, who does not, however, produce any other example of the same syntax. The other modern editors generally, with the exception of Mr.
Collier, have changed the on into of. [Dyce, Hudson, and White have on.] And everywhere else, I believe, Shakespeare writes jealous of. But there seems to be no natural reason, independently of usage, why the adjective might not take the one preposition as well as the other. They used to say enamoured on formerly. In the same manner, although the common form is to eat of, yet in Macbeth, i. 3, we have, as the words stand in the first three Folios, “ Have we eaten on the insane root.” So, although we commonly say " seized of,” we have in Hamlet, , i. I, “ All those his lands Which he stood seized on.” And there is the familiar use of on for of in the popular speech, of which we have also an example in Hamlet in the Clown's “ You lie out on't, Sir” (v. I). [Instances of on where we should use of are very numerous in Shakespeare; as in the Tempest, i. 2 :
The ivy which had hid my princely trunk,
and hast put thyself
From me, the lord on't. So also in Macbeth, iii. I:
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’the time,
The moinent on't. And v. 1:
Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on's grave. Compare i Sam. xxvii. 11.]
50. Were I a common laugher. - Pope made this correction, in which he has been followed by all subsequent editors. In all the editions before his the