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_“ Her horse, fair and lusty ; which she rid so as might show a fearful boldness, daring to do that which she knew that she knew not how to do.” The meaning is only so as showed (not so as should show). In like manner a few pages before we have; “But his father had so deeply engraved the suspicion in his heart, that he thought his flight rather to proceed of a fearful guiltiness, than of an humble faithfulness.”
672. By this face.-By this show or pretence of courage.
672. To fasten in our thoughts that they have courage. --We have now lost the power of construing to fasten in this way, as if it belonged to the same class of verbs with to think, to believe, to suppose, to imagine, to say, to assert, to affirm, to declare, to swear, to convince, to inform, to remember, to forget, etc., the distinction of which seems to be that they are all significant either of an operation performed by, or at least with the aid of, or of an effect produced upon, the mind.
674. Octavius, lead your battle softly on.-Vid. 671.
674. Upon the left hand of the even field.—Does this mean the smooth or level ground? Or is not "the even field” rather to be understood as meaning the even ranks, the army as it stands before any part of it has begun to advance, presenting one long unbroken line of front? I am not aware, however, of any other instance of such an application of the term field, unless it may be thought that we have one afterwards in the last line but one of the present Play :“So, call the field to rest.”
675. Keep thou the left.-Ritson remarks ;—“The tenor of the conversation evidently requires us to read you." He means, apparently, that you and your are
the words used elsewhere throughout the conversation. But he forgets that the singular pronoun is peculiarly emphatic in this line, as being placed in contrast or opposition to the I. It is true, however, that thou. and you were apt to be mistaken for one another in old handwriting from the similarity of the characters used for th and y, which is such that the printers have in many cases been led to represent the one by the other, giving us, for instance, ye for the, yereof, or y'of, for thereof, etc.*
676. Why do you cross me in this exigent. This is Shakespeare's word for what we now call an exigence, or exigency. Both forms, however, were already in use in his day. Exigent, too, as Nares observes, appears to have then sometimes borne the sense of ex
* This confusion in writing between the th and the y is, I have no doubt, what has given rise to such forms of expression as “The more one has, the more he would have,” “ The more haste, the less speed,” etc. It is admitted that the the here cannot be the common definite article. Vid. Latham, Eng. Lang. 239, 264, 282. Neither in French nor in Italian is any article used in such cases. But it is the German that shows us what the word really is. "Je mehr einer hat, je mehr er haben will” is literally “ Ever more one has, ever more he would have.” And je represented according to the English system of spelling is ye. This is apparently what the pedantry of the book language, misled by the ignorance of transcribers, has perverted into our modern the. Je (or ye) is in fact the same word with our still not unfamiliar aye, always. Very probably it is also the same with yea, the adverb of affirmation. Always, or an equivalent term, would be in most cases a natural enough expression of affirmation or assent. In the word every, again, or everye, as it was anciently spelled, we have perhaps the opposite process of the conversion of the into ye; for the English “ever-y man" is, apparently, in form as well as in sense, the German "je-der mann."
tremity or end, which is a very slight extension of its proper import of great or extreme pressure.
678. Drum, etc.—" Lucilius, Titinius, Messala, and Others" is a modern addition to the heading here. 680. Shall we give sign of battle?-We should now say "give signal.”
681. We will answer on their charge.—We will wait till they begin to make their advance.
681. Make forth.-To make, a word which is still used with perhaps as much latitude and variety of application as any other in the language, was, like to do, employed formerly in a number of ways in which it has now ceased to serve us. Nares arranges its obsolete senses under seven heads, no one of which, however, exactly comprehends the sense it bears in the present expression. Make forth is merely Go forth, retire, move away. The whole passage, however, is not easily interpreted. From what Octavius immediately subjoins "Stir not until the signal" — it would almost seem that he had understood Antony's "Make forth" to be the word of command to the troops to advance against the enemy. Yet Antony had just opposed the proposition of Octavius to give the signal of battle, and declared his determination not to move till the enemy should make their charge. Besides, what is their dispute about? At first it appears to be about whether or no the signal of battle should be given; afterwards, about whether the troops should stir from their position till the signal had been given. It seems a strange procedure, too, on the part of Antony, when he would confer in private with Octavius, to order the troops to make forth, whether he may mean them to advance upon the enemy or only to retire to a little distance.
687. The posture of your blows are yet unknown.This is the reading of all the old copies. The grammatical irregularity is still common. Mr. Collier prints “is yet,” which is perhaps one of the corrections of his MS, annotator. One would be inclined rather to suspect the word posture. It seems a strange word for what it is evidently intended to express. 690. Whilst damned Casca.
This is the reading of all the Folios. Mr. Collier has While.
690. Struck Casar on the neck.- you flatterers ! -The word in the old text is strook (as in 348). There is the common prosodical irregularity of a superfluous short syllable.
691. Flatterers !-Now, Brutus, thank yourself.The prosodical imperfection of this line consists in the want of the first syllable. It is a hemistich extending to four feet and a half.
692. The proof of it. That is, the proof of our arguing. And by the proof must here be meant the arbitrement of the sword to which it is the prologue or prelude. It is by that that they are to prove what they have been arguing or asserting.
692. Look; I draw a sword, etc.-It is perhaps as well to regard the Look as a hemistich (of half a foot); but in the original edition it is printed in the same line with what follows.
692. Never till Cæsar's three and thirty wounds.Theobald changed this to "three and twenty,"_" from the joint authorities," as he says, “ of Appian, Plutarch, and Suetonius.” And he may be right in believing that the error was not Shakespeare's. The " thirty," however, escapes the condemnation of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator.
692. Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors. -This is not very satisfactory; but it is better, upon the whole, than the amendment adopted by Mr. Collier on the authority of his MS. annotator—“Have added slaughter to the word of traitor;" —which would seem to be an admission on the part of Octavius (impossible in the circumstances) that Brutus and Cassius were as yet free from actual treasonable slaughter, and traitors only in word or name.
693. Cæsar, thou canst not die by traitors' hands.In the standard Variorum edition, which is followed by many modern reprints, this line is strangely given as“ Cæsar, thou canst not die by traitors.” It is right in all Mr. Knight's and Mr. Collier's editions.
695. O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain.Strain, or strene, is stock or race. The word is used several times by Shakespeare in this sense, and not only by Chaucer and Spenser, but even by Dryden, Waller, and Prior. The radical meaning seems to be anything stretched out or extended, hence a series either of progenitors, or of words or musical notes or sentiments.
695. Thou could'st not die more honorable. This is not Shakespeare's usual form of expression, and we may be allowed to suspect that he actually wrote honorably (or honourablie).
698. The original Stage Direction is, “Exit Octavius, Antony, and Army.”
700. Ho! Lucilius, etc.—This is given as one verse in the original, and nothing is gained by printing the Ho! in another line by itself, as the modern editors do. The verse is complete except that it wants the first syllable,-a natural peculiarity of an abrupt com