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« Varro and Claudius,
Did you call, my lord ?"
Ay, my lord, an it please you." A syllable is wanting : Ay, good, my lord, an't please yoủ.
It does, my boy." “ It is my duty." Some words seem to have been lost; perhaps, like these :
my duty to my still kind lord." 392. If thou dost nod thou break'st thy ina
strument : “ I'll take it from thee.” There is something exquisitely delicate and affecting in this scene between Brutus and the boy. 394. “ Didst thou dream, Lucius, that thou so
cry'dst out ?" Are we to suppose that Brutus advances this in order to conceal or disguise his own terrors, or that some stage direction for the boy's crying has been omitted: I think the latter is the probable conclusion, as the alternative would be a disingenuousness incompatible with the noble character of Brutus.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Fearful bravery." "Fearful,” as Mr. Malone observes, as often,
in Shakspeare, relates to the action as to the passion of fear; but in this place, I think, Antony means, not a bravery that is to excite dread, but a boastful bravery, that is to hide fear : “by this face,” he says, i. e. this outside, they think, “ To fasten in our thoughts that they have cou
rage; « But'tis not so.” 397. “ The posture of your blows are yet un
known.” As Mr. Steevens has very properly withdrawn Shakspeare from the imputation of such a gross error as this is, are for is, he should have corrected the text accordingly. 399.“ O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain,
Young man, thou could'st not die more
honourable." I should rather assign these words to Cassius, than to the modest Brutus.
400. “Why now blow wind, swell billow, and
swim bark ! “ The storm is up, and all is on the
hazard." In a similar extremity of desperation, Macbeth exclaims :
Blow wind, come wrack, " At least we'll die with harness on our back." 401. “ Our army lies, ready to give up the
ghost.” We might read, to save the metre, “Our army lies as 'twould give up the ghost.”
404. Thorough the streets of Rome."
Some words are wanting here: perhaps,
That work, the ides of March begun." This false grammar, which, as Mr. Malone says, was probably the poet's own, ought, notwithstanding that, to be set right in the text; as, I think, the editors of Pope should have done, in the case of the very same slip made by that poet, and even without the excuse of rhyme: “A second deluge learning thus o'errun, "And the monks finish'd what the Goths be
“ For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius !".
The tenderness of Brutus here, as well as throughout his conduct, is no less admirable than his magnanimity.
410. “O hateful error, melancholy's child !"
See Gray's Elegy, Church Yard : “And melancholy mark'd him for her own."
Why dost thou shew to the apt thoughts of “The things that are not ?"
" Apt,” for adapting, making suitable.
416. " And see whe'r. Brutus be alive, or dead.”
This contraction of " whether” occurs in this play more frequently than in any other.
Fly, fly, my lord; there is no tarrying
Volumnius did not conceive Brutus' condition to be quite so desperate as Macbeth found his, when he exclaimed: “There is no flying hence, nor tarrying here.”
“ All the conspirators, save only he." “ He" should be altered, as in all similar cases, to " him ;” it cannot be said to stand absolutely, for then we should read, with the participle, " saved only he.”
“ His life was gentle; and the elements
“So mix'd in him, that”Is " mixed,” here, the participle ? or may we not more correctly take it as the preterimperfect tense: “the elements” so mixed, or were mixing and commingling in him, so, &c. 423.
That nature might stand up,
“ A combination and a form, indeed,
Dr. Johnson's general remarks upon these plays are at once so forcible and elegant, that it is alike dangerous and irksome to controvert any of them: but when he says, of this tragedy, that he thinks it somewhat cold and unaffecting, I cannot subscribe to his opinion. The character of Brutus, throughout, I have always felt powerfully affecting; and, besides the scene which the Doctor excepts for applause, I believe most people will consider the speeches of Antony over the dead body of Caesar, and the artful eloquence with which he captivates the multitude, as classing among the happiest effusions of the poet; and there are few instances, perhaps, to be found of more tender and delicate interest than is excited in the scene between Brutus and Portia; in that between Brutus and Lucius, in the fourth act; and, at last, in the catastrophe of that great man's death.
WOL II. T}