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209. I charm you.-Charm (or charme) is the reading of all the old printed copies, and Mr Collier tells us of no correction by his MS. annotator. Pope substituted charge, which was adopted also by Hanmer.. It must be confessed that the only instance which has been referred to in support of charm is not satisfactory. It is adduced by Steevens from Cymbeline, i. 7, where Iachimo says to Imogen,
"Tis your graces
That from my mutest conscience to my tongue
This is merely the common application of the verb to charm in the sense of to produce any kind of effect as it were by incantation. Charm is no doubt a derivative from carmen, as incantation or enchantment is from cano. In the passage before us, I charm you (if such be the reading) must mean I adjure or conjure you. Spenser uses charm with a meaning which it does not now retain ; as when he says in his Shepherd's Kalendar (October, 118), “Here we our slender pipes may safely charm," and, in the beginning of his Colin Clout's Come Home Again, speaks of "charming his oaten pipe unto his peers," that is, playing or modulating (not uttering musical sounds, as explained by Nares, but making to utter them). Still more peculiar is the application of the word by Marvel in a short poem entitled "The Picture of T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers; "
"Meanwhile, whilst every verdant thing
Itself does at thy beauty charm ;”
that is, apparently, delights itself in contemplating thy beauty. We do not now use this verb thus reflectively at all. There seems, however, to have been formerly a latitude in the application of it which may possibly have extended to such a sense as that which must be assigned to it if it was really the word here employed by Portia.Two stage directions are added here by Mr Collier's MS.
annotator:-"Kneeling," where Portia says "Upon my knees I charm you;" and "Raising her" at 210.
211. But, as it were, in sort, or limitation.—Only in a manner, in a degree, in some qualified or limited sense. We still say in a sort.
211. To keep with you, etc.-To keep company with you. To keep in the sense of to live or dwell is of constant occurrence in our old writers; and Nares observes that they still say in the University of Cambridge, Where do you keep? I keep in such a set of chambers. We sometimes hear it asserted that the word comfort, as well as the thing, is exclusively English. But it is also an old French word, though bearing rather the sense of our law term to comfort, which is to relieve, assist, or encourage. And it exists, also, both in the Italian and in the Spanish. Its origin is an ecclesiastical Latin verb conforto (from con and fortis), meaning to strengthen.
211. And talk to you sometimes, etc.-The true prosodical view of this line is to regard the two combinations "to you" and "in the" as counting each for only a single syllable. It is no more an Alexandrine than it is an hexameter.
213. Being so fathered, and so husbanded. We have here two exemplifications of the remarkable power which our language possesses (though a consequence of its poverty of inflection, or of the loss of their distinctive terminations by the infinitive and present indicative of the verb) of turning almost any noun, upon occasion, into a verb. It may be called its most kingly prerogative, and may be compared to the right of ennobling exercised by the crown in our political constitution, the more, inasmuch as words too, as well as men, were originally, it is probable, all of equal rank, and the same word served. universally as noun at one time and as verb at another. Most of our verbs that are of purely English or Gothic descent are still in their simplest form undistinguishable
from nouns. The noun and the verb might be exhibited together in one system of inflection; father, for instance, might be at once declined and conjugated, through fathered, and fathering, and have fathered, and will father, and all the other moods and tenses, as well as through fathers and father's, and of a father, and to a father, and the other so called nominal changes. It is to this their identity of form with the noun that our English verbs owe in a great measure their peculiar force and liveliness of expression, consisting as that does in their power of setting before us, not merely the fact that something has been done or is doing, but the act or process itself as a concrete thing or picture. Shakespeare in particular freely employs any noun whatever as a verb.
It is interesting to note the germ of what we have here in The Merchant of Venice (i. 2) :·
"Her name is Portia; nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia."
The Merchant of Venice had certainly been written by 1598.
213. I have made strong proof-The prosody concurs here with the sense in demanding a strong emphasis upon the word strong.
214. All the charactery.—All that is charactered or expressed by my saddened aspect. The word, which occurs also in the Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5, is accented on the second syllable there as well as here. And no doubt this was also the original, as it is still the vulgar, accentuation of character. Shakespeare, however, always accents that word on the char-, as we do, whether he uses it as a noun or as a verb; though a doubt may be entertained as to the pronunciation of the participial form both in the line, "Are visibly charactered and engraved," in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, ii. 7, and in the "Show me one scar charactered on the skin" of the Second Part of King
Henry the Sixth, iii. 1, as well as with regard to that of the compound which occurs in Troilus and Cressida, iii. 2,
"And mighty states characterless are grated
To dusty nothing.”
-The stage direction near the beginning of this speech is merely Knock in the original edition.
214. Lucius, who's that knocks ?-Who is that who knocks? The omission of the relative is a familiar ellipsis. Vid. 34. Who's, and not who is, is the reading of all the Folios. It is unnecessary to suppose that the two broken lines were intended to make a whole between them. They are best regarded as distinct hemistichs. Mr Collier, however, prints "Who is't that knocks ?" Does he follow his MS. annotator in this ?
217. The Lig. (for Ligarius) is Cai. throughout in the original text. The authority for the prænomen Caius, by which Ligarius is distinguished throughout the Play, is Plutarch, in his Life of Brutus, towards the beginning.
218. To wear a kerchief.-Kerchief is cover-chief, the chief being the French chef, head (from the Latin Cap-ut, which is also the same word with the English Head and the German Haupt). But, the proper import of chief being forgotten or neglected, the name kerchief came to be given to any cloth used as a piece of dress. piece of dress. In this sense the word is still familiar in handkerchief, though both kerchief itself and its other compound neckerchief are nearly gone out. In King John, iv. 1, and also in As You Like It, iv. 3 and v. 2, the word in the early editions is handkercher; and this is likewise the form in the Quarto edition of Othello.
218. Would you were not sick!—I do not understand upon what principle, or in what notion, it is that the Shakespearian editors print would in such a construction as this with an apostrophe ('Would). Even if it is to be taken to mean I would, the I will not be a part of the
word which has been cut off, like the i of it in the contraction 'tis.
221. Thou, like an exorcist.-"Here," says Mason, “and in all other places where the word occurs in Shakespeare, to exorcise means to raise spirits, not to lay them; and I believe he is singular in his acceptation of it." The only other instances of its occurrence, according to Mrs Clarke, are ;—in the Song in Cymbeline, iv. 2:
"No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!"
in All's Well that Ends Well, v. 3, where, on the appearance of Helena, thought to be dead, the King exclaims,
"Is there no exorcist
Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes ?"
and in the Second Part of King Henry the Sixth, i. 4, where Bolingbroke asks, “Will her ladyship [the Duchess of Gloster] behold and hear our exorcisms ?" meaning the incantations and other operations by which they were to raise certain spirits.-In Mr Collier's regulated text, in this speech, at the words “Soul of Rome," we have the stage direction, "Throwing away his bandage."
221. My mortified spirit.-Mor-ti-fi-ed here makes four syllables, spirit counting for only one. And mortified has its literal meaning of deadened.
224. As we are going To whom it must be done.—While we are on our way to those whom it must be done to. The ellipsis is the same as we have in 105, "From that it is disposed." I do not understand how the words are to be interpreted if we are to separate going from what follows by a comma, as is done in most editions.
225. Set on your foot.-This was probably a somewhat energetic or emphatic mode of expression. In Scotland they say, "Put down your foot" in exhorting one to walk