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Exeunt. Manet Brut. et Cass.” The word Sennet is also variously written Sennit, Senet, Synnet, Cynet, Signet, and Signate. Nares explains it as "a word chiefly occurring in the stage directions of the old plays, and seeming to indicate a particular set of notes on the trumpet, or cornet, different from a flourish.” In Shakespeare it occurs again in the present Play at 67, in the heading to Antony and Cleopatra, ii. 7, in Henry VIII., ii. 4, and in Coriolanus, i. 1 and 2, where in the first scene we have “A Sennet. Trumpets sound.” In the heading of the second scene of the fifth act of Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of Malta we have “Synnet, i. e. Flourish of Trumpets.” But in Dekker's Satiromastix (1602) we have “ Trumpets sound a flourish, and then a sennet.” Steevens says, “ I have been informed that sennet is derived from senneste, an antiquated French tune formerly used in the army; but the Dictionaries which I have consulted exhibit no such word.”
44. That gentleness ... as I was, etc. - We should now say
" that gentleness that I was wont to have." It is not very long since the conjunction as was used at least in one case in which we now always employ that. “So - as,” says Bishop Lowth (Introd. to Eng. Gram.), “was used by the writers of the last (17th) century to express a consequence, instead of so that. Swift [who died 1745], I believe, is the last of our good writers who has frequently used this manner of expression.”
44. Over your friend that loves you. -- It is friends in the Second Folio.
45. Merely upon myself. - Merely (from the Latin merus and mere) means purely, only. It separates that which it designates or qualifies from everything else. But in so doing the chief or most emphatic reference may be made either to that which is included, or to that which is excluded. In modern English it is always to the latter; by “ merely upon myself” we should now mean upon nothing else except myself; the nothing else is that which the merely makes prominent. In Shakespeare's day the other reference was the more common, that namely to what was included ; and “merely upon myself” meant upon myself altogether, or without regard to anything else. Myself was that which the merely made prominent. So when Hamlet, speaking of the world, says (i. 2), “ Things rank and gross in nature possess it merely,” he by the merely brings the possession before the mind, and characterizes it as complete and absolute; but by the same term now the prominence would be given to something else from which the possession might be conceived to be separable; “possess it merely” would mean have nothing beyond simply the possession of it (have, it might be, no right to it, or no enjoyment of it). It is not necessary that that which is included, though thus emphasized, should therefore be more definitely conceived than that with which it is contrasted. So, again, when in Henry VIII., iii. 2, the Earl of Surrey charges Wolsey with having sent large supplies of substance to Rome “ to the mere undoing of all the kingdom,” he means to the complete undoing of all the kingdom, to nothing less than such undoing ; but in our modern English the words would sound as if the speaker's meaning were, to nothing more than the undoing of the kingdom. The mere would lead us to think of something else, some possible aggravation of the undoing (such, for instance, as the disgrace or infamy), from which that was to be conceived as separated.
The use of merely here is in exact accordance with that of mere in Othello, ii. 2, where the Herald proclaims the tidings of what he calls the mere perdition of the Turkish fleet” (that is, the entire perdition or destruction). In Helena's “Ay, surely, mere the truth,” in All's Well that Ends Well, iii. 5, mere would seem to have the sense of merely (that is, simply, exactly), if there be no misprint.
Attention to such changes of import or effect, slight as they may seem, which many words have undergone, is indispensable for the correct understanding of our old writers. Their ignorance of the old sense of this same word merely has obscured a passage in Bacon to his modern editors. In his 58th Essay, entitled “Of Vicissitudes of Things," he says, “As for conflagrations and great droughts, they do not merely dispeople and destroy” - meaning, as the train of the reasoning clearly requires, that they do not altogether do so. Most of the editors (Mr. Montague included) have changed “and destroy” into “but destroy ;” others leave out the "not" before merely; either change being subversive of the meaning of the passage and inconsistent with the context. [Spedding and Ellis's edition has and; Whately's, but.] The reading of the old copies is confirmed by the Latin translation, done under Bacon's own superintendence: “Illæ populum penitus non absorbent aut destruunt.”
So in the 3d Essay, “Of Unity in Religion," when we are told that extremes would be avoided “ if the points fundamental and of substance in religion were truly discerned and distinguished from points not merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or
good intention,” the meaning is, from points not altogether of faith, - not, were distinguished not only from points of faith, as a modern reader would be apt to understand it.
45. Passions of some difference. — The meaning seems to be, of some discordance, somewhat conflicting passions. So we have, a few lines after, poor Brutus, with himself at war.”
45. Conceptions only proper to myself.— Thoughts and feelings relating exclusively to myself. [See 12.] 45. To my behaviours.
We have lost this plural. But we still say, though with some difference of meaning, both “My manner and “My manners. you one. .
- There are various kinds of being, or of existing. What is here meant is, Be in your belief and assurance ; equivalent to, Rest assured that you are.
45. Nor construe any further my neglect. — Further is the word in the old copies; but Mr. Collier, I observe, in his one volume edition prints farther. [Dyce and Hudson, further; White, as elsewhere, farther.] It is sometimes supposed that, as farther answers to far, so further answers to forth.
But far and forth, or fore, are really only different forms of the same word, different corruptions or modernizations of the Saxon feor or forth. [Far, both adjective and adverb, is from the Saxon feor. Further is from furthre, furthor, comparative of forth, furth. Farther is a modern variation of further, suggested of course by far, and is the form preferred by many writers to express distance. See Graham, English Synonymes (Amer. ed.), and note the illustrative passages under these words. ]
46. I have much mistook your passion. - That is, the feeling under which you are suffering. Patience and passion (both from the Latin patior) equally mean suffering; the notions of quiet and of agitation which they have severally acquired, and which have made the common signification of the one almost the opposite of that of the other, are merely accidental adjuncts. It may be seen, however, from the use of the word passion here and in the preceding speech, that its proper meaning was not so completely obscured and lost sight of in Shakespeare's day as it has come to be in ours, when it retains the notion of suffering only in two or three antique expressions; such as, the iliac passion, and the passion of our Saviour (with Passion Week). — Though it is no longer accounted correct to say, I have mistook, or I have wrote, such forms were in common use even till far on in the last century. Nor has the analogy of the reformed manner of expression been yet completely carried out. In some cases we have even lost the more correct form after having once had it: we no longer, for instance, say, I have stricken, as they did in Shakespeare's day, but only, I have struck.
47. But by reflection, etc. — The "other things” must, apparently, if we interpret the words with reference to their connection, be the reflectors or mirrors spoken of by Cassius. Taken by itself, however, the expression might rather seem to mean that the
eye discovers its own existence by its power of seeing other things. The verse in the present speech is thus ingeniously broken up in the original edition :
No Cassius :
By some other things.