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337. “ This mutiny.”
The metre wants correction, here; some words have been obtruded: I suppose we should read:
“No worthier than the dust
339. “So often shall the knot of us be called.” &c.
It has been remarked already that, anciently, the degrees of comparison, in the English language, were not confined to three; they were, at least, five; as, good, better, more better, best, most best, &c.
“With all true faith, so says my master Antony.” I would read, “so says Mark Antony.”
“I never thought him worse.”
This is a miserable interpolation, and could never have been written by the poet.
340. “ J/ho else must be let blood, who else is rank.”
I cannot agree in Dr. Johnson's interpretation of “ rank,” here, “ overtopping equals,” or growing too high," much less in Mr. Malone's, “Too REPLETE with blood.” I believe it only means distempered, corrupt, requiring to be purged and corrected, by being bled.
341. “ Live a thousand 3years,
This sentiment, which is suggested to Antony by grief and dispair, breaks from Othello in the height of exultation:
If it were now to die,
“No place will please me so, no mean of death.”
“Mean,” here, has an unusual signification: it cannot be medium, nor yet “means” (efficient cause), for that was expressed just before :
& 4 No instruments
“Of half that force as those your swords,” &c.
But it seems to imply mode, manner, form.
In these works we find that fire is sometimes a monosyllable and sometimes a dissyllable, but the difference should certainly be marked, in the spelling: it should, here, in one case be written “fire,” and in the other “fiér,” according to the ancient orthography:
“As fier drives out fire, so pity, pity.”
For your part, “To you our swords have leaden points, Mark Antony.”
The hypermeter, and the cacophonous sounds of you and yours, here, are proofs, I think, of corruption: we might read, in mercy to the Imetre,
“Hath done this deed on Caesar; but for you, “Mark Antony, our swords have leaden points.”
“Our arms, in strength of malice, and our
hearts, “Of brothers' temper, do receive you in “JWith all kind love.”
The first part of this passage, Mr Pope (not understanding it), with a bold licence, altered, at least to meaning, (evempt from, instead of “in strength of;”) and until better, meaning, or sense of any kind, can be deduced from the words as they stand, I believe the poetic editor's emendation will be respected. I wish that, in Mr. Steevens's comment, I could recognize any of that happy illustration which Mr. Malone ascribes to it. What chiefly wants explanation is, “arms in strength of malice” being extended to friends; and all the light I can discover in Mr. Steevens's note is in the change of “in strength of malice,” to strong in the deed of malice, which really does not, to me, afford a glimmering of fresh intelligence. May I offer, with a view to our poet’s licentious practice, a word that might have stood here, and given a meaning: |
“Our arms, reproof of malice, and our hearts,” C,
i. e. In confutation, disproof of malice. Re
proof is used exactly according to this sense in
K. Henry IV. Act 1, Scene 2: “In reproof of this lies the jest.”
343. “Sign'd in thy spoil.”
— Here wast thou bay'd, brave hart 1– “How like a deer.”
There is no end to the dear jingling with dear and deer, and hart and heart, whenever they come in the way.
& 4 Pardon me, Caius Cassius.”
Caius Cassius, here, only encumbers the verse, and should be sent about his business:
“ Dost thou here lie ""
344. “ Brutus, a word with you.” “With you” should be withdrawn:
“You shall, Mark Antony:
“Our reasons are so full of good regard.” So cogent, so applicable. 345. “I know not what may fall: I like it not.”
I believe there is no instance to countenance this use of “fall,” for “fall out;” “succeed.” Perhaps we should read, follow, and transpose “like” and “not :”
‘I know not what may follow: I not like it.”
345. “ Tide of times.”
Mr. Henley has remarked that Dr. Johnson's explanation does not seem to reach the poet's idea, and that, by the “tide of times,” is meant, not the ordinary course of things, but, great occasions, emergencies of uncommon moment, such as the overthrow or establishment of empires; and this interpretation appears to have support in what Brutus says, in the fourth Act:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
348. “Here is a mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome; “No Rome of safety for Octavius,” &c.
Mr. Steevens begins a long note, here, “If Shakspeare meant to quibble,” &c. Can any body doubt it?
350. “Itomans, countrymen, and lovers 1”
* This speech of Brutus, wherein I can, by no means, recognise the justness of Dr. Warburton's remark, which states, “it is very fine in its kind,” impresses me with a strong persuasion that it is not at all the production of our poet: it is more like the manufacture of Ben Jonson, and would better suit Polonius, than Brutus, in those scenes of Hamlet, where there is strong reason to suspect corruption. It is very remarkable that Voltaire, who has stolen and transplanted into his own tragedy of Brutus, the fine speech of Antony to the people; and has unblushingly received the highest compliments upon it, from the King of Prussia, Count Algarotti, and others, affects to extol this address of Brutus, while he is most disingenuously silent on the subject of that of Antony, which he chose to purloin.
351. “Here comes his body mourn’d by Mark Antony, who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth, as which of you shall not *