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SHAKESPEARE'S JULIUS CÆSAR.
SCENE I. The heading here in the original text is: : - "Actus Primus. Scoena Prima. Enter Flavius, Murellus, and certaine Commoners over the Stage." Murellus stands throughout not only in all the Folios, but also in the editions of both Rowe and Pope. The right name was first inserted by Theobald.
This opening scene may be compared with the first part of that of Coriolanus, to which it bears a strong general resemblance.
1. You ought not walk. The history and explanation of this now disused construction may be best collected from a valuable paper by Dr. Guest "On English Verbs, Substantive and Auxiliary," read before the Philological Society, 13th March, 1846, and printed in their Proceedings, II. 223. "Originally," says Dr. Guest, "the to was prefixed to the gerund, but never to the present infinitive; as, however, the custom gradually prevailed of using the latter in place of the former, the to was more and more frequently prefixed to the infinitive, till it
came to be considered as an almost necessary appendage of it. Many idioms, however, had sunk too deeply into the language to admit of alteration; and other phrases, to which the popular ear had been. familiarized, long resisted the intrusive particle.” The ancient syntax is still retained in all cases with the auxiliary verbs, as they are called, shall, will, can, may, do, and also with must and let, and oftener than not with bid, dare, have, hear, make, see, and perhaps some others. Cause is frequently so used; and so is help, sometimes, as in Milton's Sonnet to his friend Lawrence:
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
But, even since the language may be said to have entered upon the stage of its existence in which it still is, several of the verbs just enumerated as not admitting the to are occasionally found following the common example and taking it; and others, again, which at the present day have completely conformed to the ordinary construction, formerly used now and then to dispense with it. One of Dr. Guest's quotations exemplifies both these archaisms; it is from the portion of The Mirror for Magistrates contributed by John Higgins in 1574 (King Albanact, 16): — And, though we owe the fall of Troy requite, Yet let revenge thereof from gods to light. That is, "Though we ought to requite, revenge light," as we should now say. Here we have let with the to, and owe (of which ought or owed is the preterite), as in Shakespeare's expression before us, without it. Others of Dr. Guest's citations from the same writer exhibit the auxiliaries may, will, can, with the to. And he also produces from Spenser (F. 2., iv. 7. 32),
Whom when on ground she grovelling saw to roll; and from Shakespeare (Othello, iv. 2),
I durst, my Lord, to wager she is honest. Other verbs that are found in Shakespeare someconstrued in the same manner are endure, forbid, intend, vouchsafe; as,
The treason that my haste forbids me show.
The verb to owe, it may further be observed, is etymologically the same with own. Shakespeare repeatedly has owe where own would be now employed; as in Iago's diabolical self-gratulation (in Othello, iii. 3):
Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
The Saxon word is úgan, the ag, or radical part, of which is evidently the same with the % of the Greek eze, signifying to hold, to possess, to have for one's property, or what we call one's own. If we suppose the a to have been pronounced broad, as in our modern all, and the g to have come to be softened as g final usually is in modern German, ag and owe, unlike as they are to the eye, will be only different ways of spelling, or representing by letters, almost the same vocal utterance. The sound which the vowel originally had is more nearly preserved in the Scotch form of the word, awe. The n which we
have in the form own is either merely the common annexation which the vowel sound is apt to seek as a support or rest for itself, or, probably, in this case it may be the en of the ancient past participle (agen) or the an of the infinitive (úgan). So we have both to awake and to awaken, to ope and to open. In so short a word as the one under consideration, and one in such active service, these affixes would be the more liable to get confounded with the root. It may sound odd to speak of a man as owning what he owes; yet, if we will think of it, there are few things that can rightly be said to be more a man's own than his debts; they are emphatically proper to him, or his property, clinging to him, as they do, like a part of himself. Again, that which a man owns in this sense, or owes, is that which it is proper for him, or which he has, to perform or to discharge (as the case may be); hence the secondary meaning of ought as applied to that which is one's duty, or which is fitting. [See Latham's English Language, Fifth Edition, (1862), §§ 599, 605, 606, 727; and Marsh, Lectures on English Language, First Series, pp. 320-325.]
1. Upon a labouring day. - Laboring is here a substantive, not a participle. It is as when we say that we love laboring, or that laboring is conducive to health of mind as well as of body. It is not meant that the day labors; as when we speak of a laboring man, or a laboring ship, or a laboring line
(When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw, The line too labours, and the words move slow).
A laboring day is an expression of the same kind with a walking stick, or a riding coat; in which it is not asserted that the stick walks, or that the coat
rides; but, two substantives being conjoined, the one characterizes or qualifies the other, - performs, in fact, the part of an adjective, —just as happens in the expressions a gold ring, a leather apron, a morning call, the evening bells.
An expression used by Cowper (in his verses composed in the name of Alexander Selkirk), "the sound of the church-going bell," has been passionately reprobated by Wordsworth. "The epithet church-going applied to a bell," observes the critic (in an Appendix upon the subject of Poetic Diction, first attached, I believe, in 1820 to the Preface originally published with the Second Edition of the Lyrical Ballads, 1800)," and that by so chaste a writer as Cowper, is an instance of the strange abuses which poets have introduced into their language, till they and their readers take them as matters of course, if they do not single them out expressly as matters of admiration." A church-going bell is merely a bell for church-going; and the expression is constructed on the same principle with a thousand others that are and always have been in familiar use; such as a marauding expedition, a banking or a house-building speculation, a writing desk, a looking glass, a dining room, a dancing school, a dwelling house, etc., etc. What would Wordsworth have said to such a daring and extreme employment of the same form as we have in Shakespeare, where he makes Cleopatra (in Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 11) say, speaking of the victorious Cæsar,
From his all-obeying breath I hear
But these audacities of language are of the very soul of poetry.
The peculiar class of substantives under consider