Графични страници
PDF файл

on conjecture, “with a man ;" and "a lamb,” at any rate, can hardly be right.

562. Blood ill-tempered.—We have now lost the power of characterizing the blood as ill-tempered (except in imitatation of the antique), although we might perhaps speak of it as ill-attempered. The epithet ill-tempered, now only applied to the sentient individual, and with reference rather to the actual habit of the mind or nature than to that of which it is supposed to be the result, was formerly employed, in accordance with its proper etymological import, to characterize anything the various component ingredients of which were not so mixed as duly to qualify each other.

568. Have not you love enough to bear with me?—This is the reading of all the old copies, and is that adopted by Mr Knight. Both the Variorum text, which is generally followed, and also Mr Collier in his regulated text give us "Have you not."

569. Yes, Cassius; and from henceforth.-All the irregularity that we have in this line is the slight and common one of a superfluous short syllable (the ius of Cassius). Steevens, in his dislike to even this much of freedom of versification, and his precise grammatical spirit, would strike out the from, as redundant in respect both of the sense and of the measure.

569. He'll think your mother chides.—To chide is from the ancient cid or cýd, signifying strife or contention. It is now scarcely in use except as an active verb with the sense of to reprove with sharpness; but it was formerly used also absolutely or intransitively, as here, for to employ chiding or angry expressions. Shakespeare has both to chide and to chide at.

Instead of the stage direction "Noise within," the original edition has "Enter a Poet."

570. Poet [within].—The within is inserted here and before the next two speeches by the modern editors.——

The present incident (as well as the hint of the preceding great scene) is taken from Plutarch's life of Brutus. The intruder, however, is not a Poet in Plutarch, but one Marcus Favonius, who affected to be a follower of Cato, and to pass for a Cynic philosopher. And it will be observed that he is called a Cynic in the dialogue. There was probably no other authority than the Prompter's book for designating him a Poet.

571. Lucil. [within]. You shall not come to them.—In the Variorum and the other modern editions, although they commonly make no distinction between the abbreviation for Lucilius and that for Lucius, this speech must be understood to be assigned to Lucius, whose presence alone is noted by them in the heading of the scene. But in the old text the speaker is distinctly marked Lucil. This is a conclusive confirmation, if any were wanting, of the restoration in 521. How is it that the modern editors have one and all of them omitted to acknowledge the universal deviation here from the authority which they all profess to follow? Not even Jennens notices it.

574. For I have seen more years, I'm sure, than ye.Plutarch makes Favonius exclaim, in the words of Nestor

in the First Book of the Iliad :

̓Αλλὰ πίθεσθ'· ἄμφω δὲ νεωτέρω ἐστὸν ἐμεῖο·—

which North translates,


'My Lords, I pray you hearken both to me;

For I have seen more years than such ye three."

But this last line can hardly be correctly printed.-The Poet's quotation, it may be noted, is almost a repetition of what Antony has said to Octavius in 496.

575. Ha, ha; how vilely doth this Cynic rhyme!—The form of the word in all the Folios is vildely, or vildly; and that is the form which it generally, if not always, has in Shakespeare. The modern editors, however, have universally substituted the form now in use, as with then

(for than), and (for an), and other words similarly circumstanced.

578. I'll know his humour when he knows his time.-In this line we have what the rule as commonly laid down would make to be necessarily a short or unaccented syllable carrying a strong emphasis no fewer than four times: -I'll-his-he-his.

578. With these jigging fools.—" That is," Malone notes, "with these silly poets. A jig signified, in our author's time, a metrical composition, as well as a dance.” Capell had proposed jingling.

578. Companion, hence!—The term companion was formerly used contemptuously, in the same way in which we still use its synonyme fellow. The notion originally involved in companionship, or accompaniment, would appear to have been rather that of inferiority than of equality. A companion (or comes) was an attendant. The Comites of the imperial court, whence our modern Counts or Earls, and other nobility, were certainly not regarded as being the equals of the Emperor, any more than a Companion to a lady is now looked upon as the equal of her mistress. We have our modern fellow from the ancient native felaw; companion (with company) immediately from the French compagnon and the Italian compagno, which have been variously deduced from com-panis, com-paganus, combino (Low Latin, from binus), com-benno (one of two or more riders in the same benna, or cart), etc. See Menage, Dic. Etym. de la Langue Franç. But, after all, Dr Webster may be right in what he says under the word Company :-"From cum and pannus, cloth, Teutonic fahne, or vaan, a flag. The word denotes a band or number of men under one flag or standard. What decides this question is, the Spanish mode of writing the word with n tilde, titled n, compañia, for this is the manner of writing paño, cloth; whereas panis, bread, is written pan. The orthography of the word in the other


languages is confirmatory of this opinion."-We have an instance of the use of Companion in the same sense in which we still commonly employ fellow even in so late a work as Smollett's Roderick Random, published in 1748: -"The young ladies [Roderick's cousins], who thought themselves too much concerned to contain themselves any longer, set up their throats all together against my protector [his uncle, Lieutenant Bowling]. 'Scurvy companion! Saucy tarpaulin! Rude impertinent fellow! Did he think to prescribe to grandpapa!" Vol. I. ch. 3. In considering this meaning of the terms companion and fellow we may also remember the proverb which tells us that "Familiarity breeds Contempt."

Neither the entry nor the exit of Lucilius and Titinius is noticed in the old copies.

580. Lucilius and Titinius, bid the commanders.—The only irregularity in the prosody of this line is the common one of the one superfluous short syllable, the ius of Titinius.

581. Immediately to us, etc.-If this, as may be the case, is to form a complete line with the words of Brutus that follow, two of the six syllables must be regarded as superabundant. But there might perhaps be a question as to the accentuation of the us.

589. Upon what sickness?—That is, after or in consequence of what sickness. It is the same use of upon which we have in 458, and which is still familiar to us in such phrases as "upon this," "upon that," "upon his return," etc., though we no longer speak of a person dying upon a particular sickness or disease.

590. Impatient of my absence; etc.-This speech is throughout a striking exemplification of the tendency of strong emotion to break through the logical forms of grammar, and of how possible it is for language to be perfectly intelligible and highly expressive, sometimes, with the grammar in a more or less chaotic or uncertain

state. It does not matter much whether we take grief to be a nominative, or a second genitive governed by impatient. In principle, though not perhaps according to rule and established usage, "Octavius with Mark Antony" is as much entitled to a plural verb as 66 Octavius and Mark Antony." Tidings, which is a frequent word with Shakespeare, is commonly used by him as a plural noun; in this same Play we have afterwards "these tidings" in 729; but there are other instances besides the present in which it is treated as singular. It is remarkable that we should have exactly the same state of things in the case of the almost synonymous term news (the final s of which, however, has been sometimes attempted to be accounted for as a remnant of -ess or -ness, though its exact correspondence in form with the French nouvelles, of the same signification, would seem conclusively enough to indicate what it really is). At any rate tiding and new (as a substantive) are both alike unknown to the language.

590. She fell distract.-In Shakespeare's day the language possessed the three forms distracted, distract, and distraught; he uses them all. We have now only the first.

593. The original stage direction here is, "Enter Boy with Wine and Tapers." The second "Drinks" at the end of 595 is modern; and the "Re-enter Titinius," etc., is "Enter," in the original.

596. And call in question.-Here we have probably rather a figurative expression of the poet than a common idiom of his time. Then as well as now, we may suppose, it was not things, but only persons, that were spoken of in ordinary language as called in question.

598. Bending their expedition.-Rather what we should now call their march (or movement)—though perhaps implying that they were pressing on-than their expedition (or enterprise).

599. Myself have letters.-We have now lost the right

« ПредишнаНапред »