« PreviousContinue »
“Infused,” for inspired, endued. The same abuse of this word occurs in The Tempest, where Prospero tells Mirando, he has “infus'd her with a fortitude.”
583. “ He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.”
“Hinds,” here, is equivocal : the beasts so called, and peasants.
& 4 Such a man,
“That is no fleering tell-tale.”
This inaccuracy has occurred more than once before; the pronoun instead of the comparative conjunction.
284. “Be factious for redress.”
Mr. Malone is clearly right in his explanation of “ be factious,”—combine, strengthen your party. Mr. Steevens gives no support to Dr. Johnson's interpretation, (be active) in the passage from Coriolanus, where “factionary, on the part of your general,” is to be understood exactly in the sense that Mr. Malone gives; i.e. of the same party or faction with your general: and one would hardly have supposed that Mr. Steevens was to be told, that “faction,” in such instances, is not used in the unfavourable sense:
“Her faction will be full as strong as our's.” Henry VI. Second Part.
286. “Will change to virtue, and to worthiness.”
The harmony of Shakspeare's versification is so varied, that the cadences falling exactly on the same places, in different lines, is remarkable. In Hamlet there is a verse completely consonant to this : “She turns to favour and to prettiness.”
ACT II. SCENE I.
288. “ Ambition's ladder, “Whereto the climber-upward turns his
The compounding thus, with a hyphen, “climber” and “upward,” alters, I think, and impairs, the sense: if it be, indeed, a compound, the latter part is superfluous; for he who climbs, necessarily goes upward: but the meaning of the passage, as I conceive it, is, that young Ambition, while mounting, directs his view to the upper part of the ladder, which (as soon as he has availed himself of the entire use of it) he turns his back upon, and then looks to the clouds. The mistake arises from a supposed antithesis between “face” and “back,” but the only opposition intended is in the progress of Ambition’s climbing, from the bottom to the top of the ladder, from lowly complacency to exalted arrogance.
289. “ So Caesar may : “Then, lest he may.”
This is badly expressed. That “he may,” is admitted, absolutely; and it is not the hypothesis that is to be subverted, but the probable effect that is to be prevented : it should be, “then lest he do;” i. e. lest he practically accomplish what his condition indicates.
Specious or plausible appearance.
290. “ I have took.”
The familiarity of this false expression, for I have taken, or ta'en, should not protect it from condemnation.
291. “Sir, March is wasted fourteen days.” The measure might be filled up thus: “Sir, March is wasted now, full fourteen days.”
“Between the acting of a dreadful thing
“Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream :
I do not perceive that Dr. Johnson's explanation of “the genius and the mortal instruments” is right—(the power that watches for the protection of the conspirator, and the passions which excite him to a deed of honour and danger.) I rather think this is the meaning :—The imagination, the purpose, or device, and the means of effecting it, are then in consultation with each other: “a dreadful thing,” though put thus, generally, implies, in the speaker's mind, the intended assassination; and hence “the mortal instruments.”
296. “To mask thy monstrous visage 2 Seek none, conspiracy.”
This far exceeds the measure. I would propose, with the ejection of a word that the construction may spare,
“To mask thy monstrous visage 2 None conspiracy.”
297. “This, Casca ; this, Cinna.”
The metre here falls into disorder. I would repair it in this manner:
“This caliant Casca; Cinna, this; and this,
298. “No, not an oath : If not the face of men, “The sufferance of our souls, the time’s abuse, — “If these be motives weak,” &c.
This change in the drift of the sentence, whether careless, or studied by the poet, is natural, and frequently occurs in animated speech.
299. & 4
“JWhat need we any spur, but our own cause, “To prick us to redress 2"
We find in Macbeth a similar expression:
I have no spur,
300. “ Such suffering souls “That welcome wrongs.”
Concord requires, here, the comparative conjunction “as,” instead of the pronoun “that,” as we find it properly applied in the very next line:
& 6 Unto bad causes swear
“Such creatures as men doubt,” &c.
Inaccuracies of this kind should not be suffered to disfigure the text, or be admitted as the language of the poet, or of his time.
& 6 Every drop of blood
“Guilty-of” seems here to stand for “branded-with the disgrace-of;” or are we to understand the expression thus: “Upon the occasion of such a breach of honour, every drop of blood contributes to cause or generate in a Roman breast a new base and illegitimate spirit.
302. “And let our hearts, as subtle masters do, “Stir up their servants to an act of rage, “And after seem to chide them.”
But the drift of Brutus's speech is to deprecate what is here recommended: “and,” in the first line, unquestionably should be “nor.”
“We shall be call'd purgers, not murderers.”
What sort of a line is this P. We can count, indeed, just ten syllables, but not a single cadence for a verse; which, however, a slight transposition would yield:
“Purgers we shall be call'd ; not murderers.”
303. “ Take thought, and die for Casar.”
Notwithstanding Mr. Henley's learned argument, I believe Dr. Johnson's interpretation of “take thought,” i. e. turn melancholy, is right.— We find “ thought” applied in the same sense in Anthony and Cleopatra; where Enobarbus says,
This blows my heart; “If swift thought break it not, a swifter mean “Shall outstrike thought; but thought will do't.”
And the context itself, in the present instance, seems to impress this meaning.
“If he love Caesar, all that he can do