Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shakespeare a Lawyer? - 15 - Excepted

Was Shake-Speare a lawyer?

Part 15

Valid Pointers to Shake-Speare being a Lawyer

12.  Except before excepted  [In Latin exceptis excipiendis]

In Twelfth Night 1.3.7, Maria chides Sir Toby:

Maria:      By my troth Sir Toby, you must come in earlier o' nights; your cousin,
                 my lady, takes great exception to your ill hours.
Sir Toby:  Why, let her except before excepted.


He presumably meant something like: "Let her take exception to my habits before I take exception to hers". But his words echo a legal tag "except the before excepted", which was often used in leases and other documents to mean "apart from the exceptions already stated". It would seem astonishing of a non-lawyer had these words in mind at this point and put them into the mouth of drunken Sir Toby. Again, in The Two Gentlemen Of Verona 2.4.148-150, we find:

Valentine:   [says his own beloved is] Sovereign to all the creatures on the earth.
Proteus:     Except my mistress.
Valentine:   Sweet, except not any, Except thou wilt except against my love.

The last line means: "unless you will detract from my beloved" (alternatively, "from my love for her") - an artificial way of putting it which seems influenced by the tag. Bacon once echoed this Latin tag to some extent when he said of a particular person that he was entitled to sit as a judge "except he be excepted to".


11.  Party and Party

In Coriolanus 2.1.73-4, Menenius says to the tribune Brutus: "When you are hearing a matter between party and party". "Party and party" is legal parlance, and its main use today is in the expression "party and party" costs, meaning costs which do not fully compensate the client for the costs he has to pay his own solicitor. I think it improbable that a layman, either now or in Shake-Speare's day, would speak of an action between "party and party". He would say something like "an action between two people" or "between two parties". Bacon uses "party and party" in Spedding 12.364, 13.19, 13.203 & 13.165.


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