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which he attached to so much of it as still survives has dropt out of our minds. What is most misleading of all, many words and forms have acquired senses for us which they had not for him. All such cases that the Play presents I have made it my object to notice. Wherever there seemed to be any risk of the true meaning being mistaken, I have, in as few words as possible, stated what I conceived it to be. Where it was not clear to myself, I have frankly confessed my inability to explain it satisfactorily.
In so far as the Commentary relates to the particular Play which it goes over, and professes to elucidate, it is intended to be as complete as I could make it, in the sense of not leaving any passage unremarked upon which seemed to me to be difficult or obscure. But, of course, it puts forward no pretensions to a similar completeness, or thoroughness, in respect of any further purpose. It is far from embracing the whole subject of the English of Shakespeare, or making any attempt to do so. It is merely an introduction to that subject. In the Prolegomena, nevertheless, I have sought to lay a foundation for the full and systematic treatment of an important department of it in the exposition which is given of some principles of our prosody, and some peculiarities of Shakespeare's versification, which his editors have not in general sufficiently attended to. Such investigations are, I conceive, full of promise of new light in regard to the history both of the Plays and of the mind of their author.
Still less can the Commentary pretend to any completeness in what it may contain in reference to the history and constitution of the language generally, or of particular classes of words and constructions. Among the fragments, or specimens, however—for they can be nothing more—which occur in it of this kind of speculation are a few which will be found, perhaps, to carry out the examination of a principle, or the survey of a group of connected facts, farther than had before been done; such as those in the notes on Merely (45), on Its (54), on Shrew and Shrewd (186), on Statue (246), on Deliver (348), on the prefix Be (390), on The in combination with a comparative (675), etc.
p. 23: Add to first foot-note:—In one place, at least, ever has pretty evidently been misprinted even; where, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 6, Fenton describes Mrs. Page as “even strong against "the marriage of her daughter with Slender, “and firm for Doctor Caius.” The error, if it be one, however, has apparently been left uncorrected by Mr. Collier's MS. annotator. p. 24: Add to the foot-note:—It would appear from Nichols's Illustrations, II. 199, that Theobald in the Preface to the Second Edition of his Play of The Double Falsehood (1727), which he pretended was written by Shakespeare, spoke of private property perhaps standing so far in his way as to prevent him from putting out a complete edition of Shakespeare's Works. p. 33, l. 5; For Ferrez r. Ferrea. p. 41: To the passages here enumerated the following ought to be added:— 55. “I do believe that these applauses are For some new honours that are heaped on Caesar.”
355. “And am moreover suitor, that I may Produce his body to the market-place.”
494. “Or here, or at The Capitol.”
But this last is the only true or perfect instance of the peculiarity in question that occurs in the present Play. p. 42: Add to foot-note:–Another case of the same kind is unquestionably that of the word old in the line (As You Like It, iv. 3),
“Under an (old) oak, whose boughs were mossed with age.”
Nor can I have any doubt that another text, equally familiar to the modern ear, has suffered a similar corruption,-Bassanio's—
“In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
To find forth may, I apprehend, be safely pronounced to be neither English nor sense. The forth has apparently been transferred from the preceding line, which was either originally written “The same way forth,” or, more probably, was so corrected after having been originally written “The self-same way.” ". . . . . . . . . . ." p. 55. It ought to have been noted here, or at p. 161, that the passage in Hamlet, i. 1, is found only in the QuartG edition of the Play published in 1604, and is omitted i all the Folios. Nor, although retained by Mr. Collier i his “regulated” text, is it stated to be restored by his MS. annotator. p. 61, l. 17; For “303. Cass.” r. “303. Caes.” p. 64, l. 11 : Add:—Other verbs that are found in Shakespeare sometimes construed in the same manner are endure, forbid, intend, vouchsafe; as,
“The treason that my haste forbids me show.”
“How long within this wood intend you stay?”
“Your betters have endured me say my mind.”
“Most mighty Duke, vouchsafe me speak a word.”