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"Among this princely heap," says Gloster in King Richard III., ii. 1. Heap was in common use in this sense throughout the seventeenth century.
109. The bird of night.-The owl; as the "bird of dawning" (the cock) in Hamlet, i. 1.
109. Hooting and shrieking.-Howting is the word in the first three Folios, houting in the Fourth.
109. Even at noonday, etc.-There may be a question as to the prosody of this line; whether we are to count even a monosyllable and throw the accent upon day, or, making even a dissyllable and accenting noon, to reckon day supernumerary.
109. These are their reasons, etc.—That such and such are their reasons. It is the same form of expression that we have afterwards in 147:-"Would run to these and these extremities." But the present line has no claim to either a distinctive type or inverted commas. It is not as if it were "These are our reasons." Is it possible that Mr Collier can hold the new reading which he gives us in his one volume edition, on the authority of his MS. annotator, "These are their seasons," to be what Shakespeare really wrote? This is their season might have been conceivable ; but who ever heard it remarked of any description of phenomena that these are their seasons?
109. Unto the climate.—The region of the earth, according to the old geographical division of the globe into so many Climates, which had no reference, or only an accidental one, to differences of temperature.
110. A strange-disposed time.—We should now have to use the adverb in this kind of combination. still say strange-shaped, it is because there we seem to have a substantive for the adjective to qualify; just as we have in high-mind-ed, strong-mind-ed, able-bodi-ed, and other similar forms. In other cases, again, it is the adjective, and not the adverb, that enters into the composition of the verb; thus we say strange-looking, mad-look
ing, heavy-looking, etc., because the verb is to look strange, etc., not to look strangely (which has quite another meaning). Foreign-built may be regarded as an irregular formation, occasioned probably by our having no such adverb as foreignly. Even in home-built, home-baked, home-brewed, home-grown, home-made, etc., the adverb home has a meaning (at home) which it never has when standing alone.
110. Clean from the purpose.—A use of clean (for completely) now come to be accounted inelegant, though common in the translation of the Bible. "From the purpose" is away from the purpose.
112. The metre of this speech stands, or rather stumbles, thus in the original edition :
"Good-night then, Caska:
This disturbed Skie is not to walke in."
117. Your ear is good, etc.—The old copies have "What night is this?" But, notwithstanding the supernumerary short syllable, the only possible reading seems to be the one which I have given; "Cassius, what a night is this!" The a is plainly indispensable; for surely Casca cannot be supposed to ask what day of the month it is. What he says can only be understood as an exclamation, similar to that of Cinna, in 135: "What a fearful night is this!" As for the slight irregularity in the prosody, it is of perpetual occurrence. Thus, only thirty lines lower down (in 122) we have an instance of it produced exactly as here :- "Name to thee a man most like this dreadful night." And so again in 155:-" Are then in council; and the state of a man.”
120. So full of faults.-The word fault, formerly, though often signifying no more than it now does, carried sometimes (as here) a much greater weight of meaning than we now attach to it. Conf. 143.
120. The thunder-stone. —The thunder-stone is the imaginary product of the thunder, which the ancients called Brontia, mentioned by Pliny (N. H. xxxvii. 10) as
a species of gem, and as that which, falling with the lightning, does the mischief. It is the fossil commonly called the Belemnite, or Finger-stone, and now known to be a shell. We still talk of the thunder-bolt, which, however, is commonly confounded with the lightning. The thunder-stone was held to be quite distinct from the lightning, as may be seen from the song of Guiderius and Arviragus in Cymbeline, iv. 2.
"Guid. Fear no more the lightning-flash.
Arv. Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone."
It is also alluded to in Othello, v. 2:—
"Are there no stones in heaven,
But what serve for the thunder?"
122. You are dull, etc.-The commencement of this speech is a brilliant specimen of the blank verse of the original edition:
"You are dull, Caska:
And those sparkes of Life, that should be in a Roman,
You doe want, or else you use not.
You looke pale, and gaze, and put on feare,
And cast your selfe in wonder,
To see," etc.
122. Cast yourself in wonder.-Does this mean throw yourself into a paroxysm of wonder? Or may cast yourself mean cast your self, or your mind, about, as in idle conjecture? The Commentators are mute. Shakespeare sometimes has in where we should now use into. In an earlier stage of the language, the distinction now established between in and into was constantly disregarded; and in some idiomatic expressions, the radical fibres of a national speech, we still have in used to express what is commonly and regularly expressed by into. To fall in love is a familiar example. Perhaps we continue to say in love as marking more forcibly the opposition to what Julia in the concluding line of The Two Gentlemen of
Verona calls out of love. The expression cast yourself in wonder seems to be most closely paralleled by another in King Richard III., i. 3:—“ Clarence, whom I, indeed, have cast in darkness," as it stands in the First Folio, although the preceding Quartos (of which there were five, 1597, 1598, 1602, 1612 or 1613, 1622) have all "laid in darkness." We have another instance of Shakespeare's use of in where we should now say into in the familiar lines in The Merchant of Venice, v. 1;—
"How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
122. Why old men, etc.—Blackstone's novel pointing of this passage is ingenious :-"Why old men fools" (i. e. why we have all these fires, etc., why we have old men fools). But the amendment is hardly required; or, at any rate, it would not go far to give us a perfectly satisfactory text. Nor does there seem to be any necessity for assigning to calculate the singular sense of prophesy (which the expression adduced by Johnson, to calculate a nativity, is altogether insufficient to authorize). There is probably some corruption; but the present line may be very well understood as meaning merely, why not only old men, but even fools and children, speculate upon the future; or, still more simply, why all persons, old and young, and the foolish as well as the wise, take part in such speculating and prognosticating. Shakespeare may have been so far from thinking, with Blackstone, that it was something unnatural and prodigious for old men ever to be fools, that he has even designed to classify them with foolish persons generally, and with children, as specially disqualified for looking with any very deep insight into the future. And so doubtless they are apt to be, when very old.
122. Unto some monstrous state. That is, I suppose,
some monstrous or unnatural state of things (not some overgrown commonwealth).
122. And roars, etc.—That is, roars in the Capitol as doth the lion. Many readers, I believe, go away with the notion that Cæsar is here compared by Cassius to some live lion that was kept in the Capitol. Or perhaps it may be sometimes imagined that he alludes to the same lion which Casca (though not in his hearing) has just been telling Cicero that he had met "against the Capitol." -The Second and two following Folios have tears for roars. Mr Collier, however, prints roars, although it is not stated that that word is restored by his MS. annotator.
122. No mightier than thyself, or -Of course, in strict grammar it should be than I. But the personal pronouns must be held to be, in some measure, emancipated from the dominion or tyranny of syntax. Who would rectify even Shelley's bold
"lest there be
No solace left for thou and me ?"
The grammatical law has so slight a hold that a mere point of euphony is deemed sufficient to justify the neglect of it.
As we have me for I in the present passage, we have I for me in Antonio's "All debts are cleared between you and I" (Merchant of Venice, iii. 2). Other examples of the same irregularity are the following:
"Which none but Heaven, and you and I, shall hear."
"Which none may hear but she and thou."
Coleridge, Day Dream.
In both these passages but can only be the preposition. So where Corin, in his conversation with Touchstone, in As You Like It, iii. 2, says, “You told me you salute not at the court but you kiss your hands," he does not