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“ There is a tide in the affairs of men, " Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
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?
SCENE II. 350.“ Romans, countrymen, and lovers !"
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 ??
A transposition of sentences seems necessary here. Antony, indeed, might naturally be entitled to an office in the commonwealth, but Brutus could never mean to promise offices “ to all the rout,” though he might flatter them by, saying, their condition should be mended. We should read : “ Who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive a place in the commonwealth, and the benefit of his dying, as which of you shall not?”
354. “The evil that men do lives after them,
“The good is oft interred with their bones.” This sentiment, a little varied, occurs in K. Henry VIII. “ Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues 6 We write in water.” 358. “ As rushing out of doors,” &c.
I wish this quaint conceit had been omitted, here. 361. “Were I Brutus,
“ And Brutus Antony." i. e. Were I Brutus, and, with his power of eloquence, had the zeal and affection for Cæsar which belongs to Antony, then there would be, indeed, an Antony, or "a friend of Cæsar's effectual in his cause.”
“ And, with the brands, fire the traitors' houses."
Mr. Steevens, in telling us that fire, here, is a dissyllable, is requiring of us, an acceptance of a mode of pronunciation which he, himself, is always rejecting with vehemence, when offered
by M r. Malone: “ fire,” unquestionably, is often a dissy llable; and when so, should be spelled accordingly; but, here, it must be a monosyllable, and leave the line defective, unless we accentuate in this strange way, fi-er'. We might read: , “And with the brands then fire the traitors'
SCENE III. << You'll bear me a bang for that, I fear.” a ng that I shall give you; I intend to beat
ACT IV. SCENE I.
368. << In some taste, is Lepidus but so.”
He has some smack or relish even of the beast I have described.
Car One that feeds
< On objects, arts, and imitations.” he whose mind is amused and occupied by
a nd obvious things, and is unsusceptible of an inb red or noble ambition.
370. cs Listen great things.” : Listen, a verb active.
375. “ You have condemn'd and noted Lucius
Pella“Wherein my letters were slighted off.” I believe we should read, whereon. "
You yourself " Are much condemn'd to have an itching
palm.” Condemn'd for having, i. e. censured for having; it is a very harsh expression. 381. “0, Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
“ That carries anger, as the flint bears fire, “Who, much enforced, shews a hasty
spark.” I once thought that the antecedent to "who" was “ the flint,” and that, of course, we ought to have, instead of the personal pronoun, the neuter, which; but I now believe the lamb” is the devoted antecedent.
382. “ Makes me for
We might remove the terminating syllable of forgetful, and so obtain metre: " Makes me forget ?
Yes, Cassius; and, henceforth.” 385. “ Ha! Portia?
She is dead."
“ Ha! Portia ? brother, said you?
She is dead." .
With her death “ That tidings came." “ That tidings,” though it now seems uncouth, is proper: “ tidings,” like news, riches, manners, &c. is the singular number, as will be evident if we try to detach from it the seeming plural termination : “ tiding” is no word at all, at least not in the sense here required. On this subject Dr. Lowth appears to be mistaken, in his excellent Essay of Grammar, Ed. 1787, page 34, where, quoting a passage from Atterbury, and another from Addison :
“A good character should not be rested in, as an end, but employed as a means of doing still further good.”
Atterbury. “I have read an author of this taste that compares a ragged coin to a tattered colours.”
Addison. Upon which Dr. Lowth asks, ought it not to be "a mean?” &c. “Means” is not the plural of the noun," mean,” but, notwithstanding etyinological alliance, a different word, “mean,” is simply "medium :" “ means" is the instrument or agency for a particular purpose. In like manner, if we withdraw the s from colours, we leave the word incapable of expressing the sense; for "colours” (ensign) was never called colour. 386. “ Portia, art thou gone ?”
A syllable is wanting to the metre: perhaps, : “Ah! Portia, art thou gone ? 6
No more I pray ĭou.” 387. “ And bills of outlawry.”
This I take to be interpolated; it encumbers the verse, and is wholly superfluous to the sense.