Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

the adjective sound and the verb to sound, meaning to search; and such obsolete or dialectic forms as drownd and swound (for drown and swoon) may be supposed to have been the more readily produced through the misleading influence of the parts of the verb which actually and properly end in d or ed. As we have confounded the old hinde and hine, so we have also the Original English herd, or heord, meaning a flock or crowd (the modern German heerde), with hyrd, meaning a keeper or tender (the modern German hirt); our one form for both being now herd.

128. My answer must be made.--I must answer for what I have said.

129. To such a man, That is, etc.— Vid. 57.- To fleer (or flear, as is the old spelling) is to mock, or laugh at. The word appears to have come to us from the Norse or Scandinavian branch of the Gothic,-one of the roots of our English tongue which recent philology has almost abjured, although, besides all else, we owe to it even forms of such perpetual occurrence as the are of the substantive verb and the ordinary sign of our modern genitive (for such a use of the preposition of, common to us with the Swedish, is unknown to the classical English of the times before the Norman Conquest, although we have it in full activity, probably adopted from the popular speech of the northern counties, in the written language of the twelfth century).

129. Hold, my hand.--That is, Have, receive, take hold (of it); there is my hand. The comma is distinctly marked in the early editions.

129. Be factious for redress of all these griefs.-Here factious seems to mean nothing more than active or urgent, although everywhere else, I believe, in Shakespeare the word is used in the same disreputable sense which it has at present. Griefs (the form still used in the French language, and retained in our own with another meaning)

[ocr errors]

is his by far more common word for what we now call grievances, although he has that form too occasionally (which Milton nowhere employs). Vid. 436.

130. To undergo, with me, an enterprise.- We should now rather say to undertake where there is anything to be done.

130. Of honourable-dangerous.-These two words were probably intended to make a compound adjective, although the hyphen with which they are connected by most of the modern editors is not in the oldest printed text. The language does not now, at least in serious composition, indulge in compounds of this description. Shakespeare, however, has apparently several such. Thus:6 More active-valiant, or more valiant-young."

1 Hen. IV., v.1. “But pardon me, I am too sudden-bold.”

Love's Lab. Lost, ii. 1. “More fertile-fresh than all the field to see.”

Mer. W. of Wind., v. 5.

“So full of shapes is fancy, . That it alone is high-fantastical.”—

Twelfth Night, i. 1. 130. By this they stay for me.—That is, by this time. And it is a mode of expression which, like so many others which the language once possessed, we have now lost. Yet we still say, in the same sense, ere this, before this, after this, the preposition in these phrases being felt to be suggestive of the notion of time in a way that by is not.

130. There is no ... walking.--In another connexion this might mean, that there was no possibility of walking; but here the meaning apparently is that there was no walking going on.

130. The complexion of the element.—That is, of the heaven, of the sky. North, in his Plutarch, speaks of “ the fires in the element." The word in this sense was much in favour with the fine writers or talkers of Shake

22

:

speare's day. He has a hit at the affectation in his Twelfth Night, iii. 1, where the Clown, conversing with Viola, says, “Who you are, and what you would, are out of my welkin: I might say, element: but the word is over worn. Of course, welkin is, and is intended to be, far more absurd. Yet we have element for the sky or the air in other

passages besides the present. Thus :-
“The element itself,
Shall not behold her face at ample view.”

Twelfih Night, i. 1. “I, in the clear sky of fame, o’ershine you as much as the full moon doth the cinders of the element, which show like pins' heads to her” (Falstaff, in 2 Hen. IV., iv. 3).

It is curious to find writers of the present day who are scrupulous about the more delicate proprieties of expression still echoing Shakespeare's dissatisfaction: "The territorial element, to use that favourite word,” says Hallam, Mid. Ages, I. 297 (edit. of 1855), probably without any thought of the remark of the all-observing dramatist two centuries and a half before.

130. In favour's like the work. The reading in all the Folios is “Is favors” (or "favours ” for the Third and Fourth). The present reading, which is that generally adopted, was first proposed by Johnson; and it has the support, it seems, of Mr Collier's MS. annotator. Favour, as we have seen (vid. 54), means aspect, appearance, features. Another emendation that has been proposed (by Steevens) is “Is favoured." But to say that the complexion of a thing is either featured like, or in feature like, to something else is very like a tautology. I should be strongly inclined to adopt Reed's ingenious conjecture, “Is feverous," which he supports by quoting from Macbeth, ii. 3, “Some say the earth Was feverous and did shake.” So also in Coriolanus, i. 4; “ Thou mad'st thine enemies shake, as if the world Were feverous and did tremble.”

Feverous is exactly the sort of word that, if

not very distinctly written, would be apt to puzzle and be mistaken by a compositor. It may perhaps count, too, for something, though not very much, against both “ favour's like ” and “favoured like” that a very decided comma separates the two words in the original edition.

134. One incorporate To our attempts.-One of our body, one united with us in our enterprise. The expression has probably no more emphatic import.

135. There's two or three.—The contraction there's is still used indifferently with a singular or a plural; though there is scarcely would be.

136. Am I not staid for?—This is the original reading, which has been restored by Mr Knight. The common modern reading is, “Am I not staid for, Cinna ?” the last word being inserted (and that without notice, which is unpardonable) only to satisfy the supposed demands of the prosody. 137. This speech stands thus in the First Folio:

“Yes, you are. O Cassius,
If you could but winne the Noble Brutus

To our party--"
The common metrical arrangement is :-

“Yes,

You are.

O Cassius, if you could but win The noble Brutus to our party." No person either having or believing himself to have a true feeling of the Shakespearian rhythm can believe this to be right. Nor am I better satisfied with Mr Knight's distribution of the lines, although it is adopted by Mr Collier:

"Yes, you are.
0, Cassius, if you could but win the noble Brutus,

To our party; which gives us an extended line equally unmusical and undignified whether read rapidly or slowly, followed (to make matters worse which were bad enough already) by

what could scarcely make the commencement of any kind of line. I cannot doubt that, whatever we are to do with “Yes, you are,"—whether we make these comparatively unimportant words the completion of the line of which Cassius's question forms the beginning, or take them along with what follows, which would give us a line wanting only the first syllable (and deriving, perhaps, from that mutilation an abruptness suitable to the occasion)the close of the rhythmic flow must be as I have given

it:

“O Cassius, if you could
But win the noble Brutus to our party.”

138. Where Brutus may but find it. If but be the true word (and be not a misprint for best), the meaning must be, Be sure you lay it in the prætor's chair, only taking care to place it so that Brutus may be sure to find it.

138. Upon old Brutus' statue. ---Lucius Brutus, who expelled the Tarquins, the reputed ancestor of Marcus Lucius Brutus ; also alluded to in 56, “There was a Brutus once,” etc.

139. I will hie.To hie (meaning to hasten) is used reflectively, as well as intransitively, but not otherwise as an active verb. Its root appears to be the Original English hyge, meaning mind, study, earnest application; whence the various verbal forms hyggan, hygian, hiegan, higgan, higian, hogian, hugian, and perhaps others. Hug is probably another modern derivative from the same root.

139. And so bestow these papers.—This use of bestow (for to place, or dispose of) is now gone out; though something of it still remains in stow.

140. Pompey's theatre.—The same famous structure of Pompey's, opened with shows and games of unparalleled cost and magnificence some ten or twelve years before the present date, which has been alluded to in 130 and 138.

142. You have right well conceited.—To conceit is an

« ПредишнаНапред »