Графични страници
PDF файл


Behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread
Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name

Of Demogorgon. 67. Liable to fear. - The word liable has been somewhat restricted in its application since Shakespeare's time. We should scarcely now speak of a person as liable to fear. And see 248 for another application of it still farther away from our present usage.

67. (He hears no music.—Compare Mer. of Ven. V. I,“ The man that hath not music in himself,” etc.]

67. Such men as he, etc. In this and the following line we have no fewer than three archaisms, words or forms which would not and could not be used by a writer of the present day: be (for are), at heart's ease (for in ease of mind), whiles (for while). It would be difficult to show that the language has not in each of these instances lost something which it would have been the better for retaining. But it seems to be a law of every language which has become thoroughly subdued under the dominion of grammar, that perfectly synonymous terms cannot live in it. If varied forms are not saved by having distinct senses or functions assigned to each, they are thrown off as superfluities and encumbrances. One is selected for use, and the others are reprobated, or left to perish from mere neglect. The logic of this no doubt is, that verbal expression will only be a correct representation of thought if there should never be even the slightest variation of the one without a corresponding variation of the other. But the principle is not necessarily inconsistent with the existence of various forms which should be recognized as differing in no other respect whatever except only in vocal character; and the language would be at least musically richer with more of this kind of variety. It is what it regards as the irregularity or lawlessness, however, of such logically unnecessary variation that the grammatical spirit hates. It would be argued that with two or more words of precisely the same signification we should have really something like a confusion of two or more languages. [Whiles is the genitive singular of while, which was originally a noun, used as an adverb. In Icelandic the genitive is used adverbially, and -is is the common termination of adverbs formed from nouns.

Whiles is found in Matthew, v. 25. Needs, in phrases like " must needs,” is another instance of the genitive used adverbially. Compare the Saxon neúdes, of necessity.]

67. For the present stage direction at the end of this speech, we have in the original text “Sennit. Exeunt Cæsar and his Traine."

69. What hath chanced to-day.-So in 71, where, also, most of the modern editions have " what hath chanced," although had is the word in all the Folios. Instead of to chance in this sense we now usually say to happen. Chance is French (the Latin cadentia, and not, as Craik says, from the cas- of casus strengthened by inserting n]; happen, hap, and also happy, appear to be derivatives from a Welsh word, hap or hab, luck, fortune. The Saxon verb was befeallan, from which also we have still to befall.

78. Ay, marry, was’t. - This term of asseveration, marry, which Johnson seems to speak of as still in common use in his day, is found in Chaucer in the form Mary, and appears to be merely a mode of swearing by the Holy Virgin. [Of course, its origin had come to be forgotten in Shakespeare's day, so that its use here is no anachronism.]

78. Every time gentler than other. – So in Meas. for Meas. iv. 4: “Every letter he hath writ hath disvouched other.” [Other in these passages appears to be the plural of other, Saxon othere. Compare Latimer (Sermons): “It is no marvel that they go about to keep other in darkness.” So Luke xxiii. 32; Phil. ii. 3; iv. 3.]

82. The rabblement shouted. — The first three Folios have howted, the Fourth houted. The common reading is hooted. But this is entirely inconsistent with the context. The people applauded when Cæsar refused the crown, and only hissed or hooted when they thought he was about to accept it. Shouted was substituted on conjecture by Hanmer. [Dyce and Hudson have hooted; Collier and White, shouted.]

82. For he swooned. Swoonded is the word in all the Folios.

83. Did Cæsar swoon? Here swound is the word in all the Folios.

85. 'Tis very like: he hath the falling sickness.Like is likely, or probable, as in 57. I am surprised to find Mr. Collier adhering to the blundering punctuation of the early copies, " 'Tis very like he hath," etc. Cæsar's infirmity was notorious; it is mentioned both by Plutarch and Suetonius.

86. And honest Casca, etc. - The slight interruption to the flow of this line occasioned by the supernumerary syllable in Casca adds greatly to the effect of the emphatic we that follows. It is like the swell of the wave before it breaks.

87. If the tag-rag people. — In Coriolanus, iii. 1, we have “ Will you hence, before the tag return." ** This,” says Nares, “is, perhaps, the only instance of tag without his companions rag and bobtail, or at least one of them.” [The expression “tag and rag” is old in English poetry. Collier quotes from John Partridge, 1566:

To walles they goe, both tagge and ragge,

Their citie to defende.] 87. No true man. No honest man, as we should now say. Jurymen, as Malone remarks, are still styled “good men and true.”

89. He plucked me ope his doublet. Though we still use to ope in poetry, ope as an adjective is now obsolete. As for the me in such a phrase as the present, it may be considered as being in the same predicament with the my in My Lord, or the mon in the French Monsieur. That is to say, it has no proper pronominal significancy, but merely serves (in so far as it has any effect) to enliven or otherwise grace the expression. How completely the pronoun is forgotten, — or we may say, quiescent - in such a case as that of Monsieur is shown by the common phrase " Mon cher monsieur." See 205 and 470.

The best commentary on the use of the pronoun that we have here is the dialogue between Petrucio and his servant Grumio, in Tam. of Shrew, i. 2: "Pet. Villain, I say, knock me here soundly. Gru. Knock you here, sir? Why, sir, what am I, sir, that I should knock you here, sir? Pet. Villain, I say, knock me at this gate, and rap me well, or I'll knock your knave's

knave's pate. Gru. My master is grown quarreisome: I should knock you first, And then I know after who comes by the worst. .. Hortensio. How now, what's the matter? ... Gru. Look you, sir,

[ocr errors]

he bid me knock him, and rap him soundly, sir : Well, was it fit for a servant to use his master so? .. Pet. A senseless villain ! Good Hora tensio, I bade the rascal knock upon your gate, And could not get him for my heart to do it. Gru. Knock at the gate?-O heavens! Spake you not these words plain, -Sirrah, knock me here, Rap me here, knock me well, and knock me soundly?' And come you now with — knocking at the gate?”

89. A man of any occupation. This is explained by Johnson as meaning “a mechanic, one of the plebeians to whom he offered his throat.” But it looks as if it had more in it than that. In the Folios it is " and I had been a man ;” and again in 95 and I tell you.” So also Bacon writes (Essay 23d), “Certainly it is the nature of extreme selflovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs;” and (Essay 40th), “ For time is to be honoured and respected, and it were but for her daughters, Confidence and Reputation."

[And or an for if is very common in old writers. “And why, sire,” quod I, and yt like you."

Chaucer, Legend of Good Women, 319.
So wote Crist of his curteisie,
And men crye him mercy,
Bothe forgyve and forgete.

Piers Ploughman's Vis. 11849.
And if, or an if, are as frequent.
But and if we have this livery, if we wear his cognizance,

Latimer, Sermons. I pray thee, Launce, and if thou seest my boy.

Two Gent. of Verona, iii. I. See also Matthew xxiv. 48.

Horne Tooke derives an from the Saxon unnan, to grant, as he does if (gif in Old English) from

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »