Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ius of Cassius (as also of Lucilius) makes sometimes only one syllable, sometimes two, as here.

62. Being crossed in conference, etc. — If the being and conference be fully enunciated, as they will be in any but the most slovenly reading, we have two supernumerary syllables in this line, but both so short that neither the mechanism nor the melody of the verse is at all impaired by them.

65. Let me have men about me, etc. — Some of the expressions in this speech are evidently suggested by those of North in his translation of Plutarch's Life of Cæsar : 66 When Cæsar's friends complained unto him of Antonius and Dolabella, that they pretended [i. e. intended] some mischief towards him, he answered, As for those fat men and smooth-combed heads (quoth he), I never reckon of them ; but these pale-visaged and carrion-lean people, I fear them most; meaning Brutus and Cassius."

65. Such as sleep o' nights. — That is, on nights ; as o'clock is on clock, and also as aboard is on board, aside on side, aloft on loft, alive in life, etc. In the older stages of the language the meanings that we now discriminate by on and in are confused, and are both expressed by an, on, un, in, or in composition by the contractions a or o. The form here in the original text is a-nights. [The prefix a- or an- is essentially identical with on-. An-, with its abbreviation a-, is said to characterize the dialects of the southern counties of England, while on- and o- mark the northern dialects. In many instances the two forms remain side by side, as in aboard and on board, afire and on fire, aground and on ground (2 Henry IV. iv. 4), a high (Richard 111. iv. 4) and on high, afoot and on foot, asleep and on sleep (Acts xiii. 36), abed and on bed (Chaucer, C. T. 6509), alive and on live (C. T. 5587). Compare also Saxon forms like

on-weg

and a-weg, away. In ado, the a- is equivalent to to. So in a-work (2 Henry IV. iv. 3 ; 2 Chron. ii. 18). See Bible Word-Book, Wedgwood, Nares, etc.]

65. Yond Cassius. — Though yond is no longer in use, we still have both yon and yonder. The d is probably no proper part of the word, but has been added to strengthen the sound, as in the word sound itself (from the French son), and in many other cases. [As we have in Saxon geond illuc, and no yon, it is not likely that yond has gained a d, but rather that

yon

has lost one. It may be that yon is an old form which has come down to us orally, though not found in literature. The root is the same as in the German jener, Gothic jains.]

66. Well given. - Although we no longer say absolutely well or ill given (for well or ill disposed), we still say given to study, given to drinking, etc.

67. [Would he were fatter. - White prints would, as he does again in 218, and as some other editors have done in these and similar passages. But even if the would is equivalent to I would, there is no reason for the apostrophe, which is used only when a part of the word has been cut off, as in 't is for it is.]

67. Yet, if my name.- A poetic idiom for " Yet, if I, bearing the name I do.” In the case of Cæsar the name was even more than the representative and most precise expression of the person; it was that in which his power chiefly resided, his renown. Every reader of Milton will remember the magnificent passage (P. L. ii. 964),

Behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread
Wide on the wasteful deep; with him enthroned
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name

Of Demogorgon. 67. Liable to fear. The word liable has been somewhat restricted in its application since Shakespeare's time. We should scarcely now speak of a person as liable to fear. And see 248 for another application of it still farther away from our present usage.

67. [He hears no music. - Compare Mer. of Ven. V. I, “ The man that hath not music in himself,” etc.]

67. Such men as he, etc. - In this and the following line we have no fewer than three archaisms, words or forms which would not and could not be used by a writer of the present day: be (for are), at heart's ease (for in ease of mind), whiles (for while). It would be difficult to show that the language has not in each of these instances lost something which it would have been the better for retaining. But it seems to be a law of every

language which has become thoroughly subdued under the dominion of grammar, that perfectly synonymous terms cannot live in it. If varied forms are not saved by having distinct senses or functions assigned to each, they are thrown off as superfluities and encumbrances. One is selected for use, and the others are reprobated, or left to perish from mere neglect. · The logic of this no doubt is, that verbal expression will only be a correct representation of thought if there should never be even the slightest variation of the one without a corresponding variation of the other. But the principle is not necessarily inconsistent with the existence of various forms which should be recognized as differing in no other respect whatever except only in vocal character; and the language would be at least musically richer with more of this kind of variety. It is what it regards as the irregularity or lawlessness, however, of such logically unnecessary variation that the grammatical spirit hates. It would be argued that with two or more words of precisely the same signification we should have really something like a confusion of two or more languages. [Whiles is the genitive singular of while, which was originally a noun, used as an adverb. In Icelandic the genitive is used adverbially, and -is is the common termination of adverbs formed from nouns. Whiles is found in Matthew, v. 25. Needs, in phrases like

must needs,” is another instance of the genitive used adverbially. Compare the Saxon neádes, of necessity.]

67. For the present stage direction at the end of this speech, we have in the original text “Sennit. Exeunt Cæsar and his Traine."

69. What hath chanced to-day.- So in 71, where, also, most of the modern editions have 6 what hath chanced," although had is the word in all the Folios. Instead of to chance in this sense we now usually say to happen. Chance is French (the Latin cadentia, and not, as Craik says, from the cas- of casus strengthened by inserting n]; happen, hap, and also happy, appear to be derivatives from a Welsh word, hap or hab, luck, fortune. The Saxon verb was befeallan, from which also we have still to befall.

78. Ay, marry, was't. — This term of asseveration, marry, which Johnson seems to speak of as still in common use in his day, is found in Chaucer

So

in the form Mary, and appears to be merely a mode of swearing by the Holy Virgin. [Of course, its origin had come to be forgotten in Shakespeare's day, so that its use here is no anachronism.]

78. Every time gentler than other. – So in Meas. for Meas. iv. 4: “Every letter he hath writ hath disvouched other." [Other in these passages appears to be the plural of other, Saxon othere. Compare Latimer (Sermons): “It is no marvel that they go about to keep other in darkness.” Luke xxiii. 32; Phil. ii. 3; iv. 3.]

82. The rabblement shouted. · The first three Folios have howted, the Fourth houted. The common reading is hooted. But this is entirely inconsistent with the context. The people applauded when Cæsar refused the crown, and only hissed or hooted when they thought he was about to accept it. Shouted was substituted on conjecture by Han

[Dyce and Hudson have hooted; Collier and White, shouted.]

82. For he swooned. Swoonded is the word in all the Folios.

83. Did Cæsar swoon? Here swound is the word in all the Folios.

85. 'Tis very like: he hath the falling sickness.Like is likely, or probable, as in 57. I am surprised to find Mr. Collier adhering to the blundering punctuation of the early copies, “ 'Tis very like he hath,” etc. Cæsar's infirmity was notorious; it is mentioned both by Plutarch and Suetonius.

86. And honest Casca, etc. The slight interruption to the flow of this line occasioned by the supernumerary syllable in Casca adds greatly to the effect of the emphatic we that follows. It is like the swell of the wave before it breaks.

mer.

« ПредишнаНапред »