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530. Go to. -Johnson, in his Dictionary, explains this expression as equivalent to "Come, come, take the right course" (meaning, contemptuously or sarcastically). He adds, that, besides being thus used as "a scornful exhortation," it is also sometimes" a phrase of exhortation or encouragement; as in Gen. xi. 4, where the people, after the flood, are represented as saying, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower,” etc. But it must be understood to be used, again, in the scornful sense three verses lower down, where the Lord is made to say, "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language," etc.
533. Have mind upon your health. Mind is here remembrance, and health is welfare, or safety, generally; senses which are both now obsolete.
534. Away, slight man!-See 493 and 521.
536. Hear me, for I will speak. - The emphasis is not to be denied to the will here, although it stands in the place commonly stated to require an unaccented syllable. See 425, 435, and 612.
538. Must I observe you? — Pay you observance, or reverential attention. [Compare 2 Henry IV. iv. 2: "For he is gracious, if he be observed," and "I shall observe him with all care and love." The word is used in the same sense in Mark vi. 20.]
540. You say you are a better soldier.—See 524. 540. Ishall be glad to learn of abler men. The old reading is "noble men;" abler is the correction of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator. Even if this were a mere conjecture, its claim to be accepted would be nearly irresistible. Noble here is altogether inappropriate. [Dyce, Hudson, Staunton, and White retain “noble," which is by no means so bad as Craik makes it.] Cassius, as Mr. Collier remarks,
had said nothing about "noble men," whereas abler is the very expression that he had used (in 529):I am a soldier, I, Older in practice, abler than yourself To make conditions.
550. You have done that you should be sorry for.-The emphasis, of course, is on should. The common meaning of shall, as used by Cassius, is turned, in Brutus's quick and unsparing replication, into the secondary meaning of should (ought to be). See 181.
550. Which I respect not. Which I heed not. Here respect has rather less force of meaning than it has now acquired; whereas observe in 538 has more than it now conveys. Respect in Shakespeare means commonly no more than what we now call regard or view. Thus, in The Midsummer Night's Dream, i. 1, Lysander says of his aunt, "She respects me as her only son;" and, in ii. 1, Helena says to Demetrius, "You, in my respect, are all the world." So, in The Merchant of Venice, v. 1, when Portia, on hearing the music from the lighted house as she approaches Belmont at night in company with Nerissa, says,
Nothing is good, I see, without respect;
she means merely that nothing is good without reference to circumstances, or that it is only when it is in accordance with the place and the time that any good thing can be really or fully enjoyed. As she immediately subjoins,
How many things by season seasoned are
So afterwards Nerissa to Gratiano: "You should
have been respective, and have kept it" (the ring). that is, you should have been mindful (of your promise or oath).
550. And drop my blood.—Expend my blood in drops.
550. Than to wring. Although had rather (see 54 and 57), being regarded as of the nature of an auxiliary verb, does not in modern English take a to with the verb that follows it (see 1), it does so here in virtue of being equivalent in sense to would or should prefer.
550. By any indirection. - Indirectness, as we should now say.
550. To lock such rascal counters. As to lock. See 407. Rascal means despicable. It is a Saxon word, properly signifying a lean, worthless deer. 550. Be ready, gods, etc. -I cannot think that Mr. Collier has improved this passage by removing the comma which we find in the old copies at the end of the first line, and so connecting the words "with all your thunderbolts," not with "Be ready," but with "Dash him to pieces." [On the whole, Collier's reading, which is adopted by White, seems the preferable one.]
550. Dash him to pieces. - This is probably to be understood as the infinitive (governed by the preceding verb be ready) with the customary to omitted. See I.
553. Brutus hath rived my heart. — See 107.
558. A flatterer's would not, though they do appear. This is the reading of all the old copies. Mr. Collier's MS. annotator gives "did appear." [But Collier does not adopt the emendation.]
559. Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius. - In this line and the next we have Cassius used first as
a trisyllable and immediately after as a dissyllable. [Compare 501.]
559. For Cassius is aweary of the world.— Whatever may be its origin or proper meaning, many words were in the habit of occasionally taking a as a prefix in the earliest period of the language. Thence we have our modern English arise, arouse, abide, await, awake, aweary, etc. Some of the words which are thus lengthened, however, do not appear to have existed in the Saxon; while, on the other hand, many ancient forms of this kind are now lost. More or less of additional expressiveness seems usually to be given by this prefix, in the case at least of such words as can be said to have in them anything of an emotional character. Shakespeare has used the present word in another of his most pathetic lines-Macbeth's "I 'gin to be aweary of the sun." The a here is the same element that we have in the "Tom's a-cold" of Lear, iii. 4, and iv. I, and also with the an that we have in the "When I was an-hungered" of the New Testament, and Shakespeare's "They said they were an-hungry" (Coriol. i. 4). [See 65.]
559. [Checked like a bondman. - Compare 2 Henry IV. i. 2: "I have checked him for it, and the young lion repents." So in Udall's Erasmus, Mark xv. 32: "And they that were crucified with hym, checked hym also." Check is used in this sense of rebuke, reprove, in the heading of chap. v. of Exodus.]
559. Conned by rote. The Saxon connan, or cunnan, signifying to know, and also to be able, its probable modification cunnian, to inquire, and cennan, to beget or bring forth, appear to have all come to be confounded in the breaking up of the old
form of the language, and then to have given rise to our modern ken, and can, and con, and cunning, with meanings not at all corresponding to those of the terms with which they severally stand in phonetic connection. Can is now used only as an auxiliary verb with the sense of to be able, though formerly it was sometimes employed with the same sense as a common verb. "In evil," says Bacon, in his 11th Essay (Of Great Place), "the best condition is not to will; the second, not to can." Ken is still in use both as a verb and as a substantive. The verb Nares interprets as meaning to see, the substantive as meaning sight; and he adds, "These words, though not current in common usage, have been so preserved in poetic language that they cannot properly be called obsolete. Instances are numerous in writers of very modern date. . . . In Scotland these words are still in full currency." But the meaning of to ken in the Scottish dialect is not to see, but to know. And formerly it had also in English the one meaning as well as the other, as may be seen both in Spenser and in Shakespeare. The case is similar to that of the Greek side (oida) and sidew. Cunning, again, instead of being the wisdom resulting from investigation and experience, or the skill acquired by practice, as in the earlier states of the language, has now come to be understood as involving always at least something concealed and mysterious, if not something of absolute deceit or falsehood.
As for con its common meaning seems to be, not to know, but to get by heart, that is, to acquire a knowledge of in the most complete manner possible. And to con by rote is to commit to memory by an operation of mind similar to the turning of a wheel