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Brʊ. Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise
It is not for your health, thus to commit
Stole from my bed: And yesternight, at supper,
Musing, and sighing, with your arms across :
I urg'd you further; then you scratch'd your head,
But, with an angry wafture of your hand,
Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
BRU. I am not well in health, and that is all. POR. Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health, He would embrace the means to come by it.
BRU. Why, so I do :-Good Portia, go to bed. POR. Is Brutus sick? and is it physical To walk unbraced, and suck up the humours Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick; And will he steal out of his wholesome bed, To dare the vile contagion of the night? And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air
8-on your CONDITION,] On your temper; the disposition of your mind. See vol. v. p. 23, n. 7. MALONE.
To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus;
Kneel not, gent.e Portia.
POR. I should not need, if you were gentle
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
To keep with you at meals', comfort your bed 2,
9 I CHARM YOU,] Thus the old copy. Mr. Pope and Sir Thomas Hanmer read-charge, but unnecessarily. So, in Cymbeline: tis your graces
"That from my mutest conscience to my tongue
"Charms this report out." STEEVENS.
1 To keep with you at meals, &c.] "I being, O Brutus, (sayed she) the daughter of Cato, was married vnto thee, not to be thy beddefellowe and companion in bedde and at borde onelie, like a harlot; but to be partaker also with thee, of thy good and euill fortune. Nowe for thyselfe, I can finde no cause of faulte in thee touchinge our matche: but for my parte, how may I showe my duetie towards thee, and how muche I woulde doe for thy sake, if I can not constantlie beare a secrete mischaunce or griefe with thee, which requireth secrecy and fidelitie? I confesse, that a woman's wit commonly is too weake to keep a secret safely: but yet, Brutus, good education, and the companie of vertuous men, haue some power to reforme the defect of nature. And for my selfe, I haue this benefit moreouer: that I am the daughter of Cato, and wife of Brutus. This notwithstanding, I did not trust to any of these things before; vntil that now I have found by experience, that no paine nor grife whatsoeuer can ouercome me. With these
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
BRU. You are my true and honourable wife;
wordes she showed him her wounde on her thigh, and tolde him what she had done to proue her selfe." Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch. STEEVENS.
Here also we find our author and Lord Sterline walking over the same ground :
"I was not, Brutus, match'd with thee, to be
"As those that have two breasts, one heart, two souls,
COMFORT your bed,] "Is but an odd phrase, and gives as odd an idea," says Mr. Theobald. He therefore substitutes, consort. But this good old word, however disused through modern refinement, was not so discarded by Shakspeare. Henry VIII. as we read in Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, in commendation of Queen Katharine, in publick said: "She hathe beene to me a true obedient wife, and as comfortable as I could wish." Upton.
In the book of entries at Stationers' Hall, I meet with the following, 1598: " A Conversation between a careful Wyfe and her comfortable Husband." STEEVENS.
In our marriage ceremony, the husband promises to comfort his wife; and Barrett's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, says, that "to comfort" is, 'to recreate, to solace, to make pastime.' COLLINS.
3 — in the SUBURBS] Perhaps here is an allusion to the place in which the harlots of Shakspeare's age resided. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Monsieur Thomas:
"Get a new mistress,
"Some suburb saint, that sixpence, and some oaths,
4 As dear to me, &c.] These glowing words have been adopted by Mr. Gray in his celebrated Ode:
"Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart."
POR. If this were true, then should I know this
I grant, I am a woman; but, withal,
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose them:
Giving myself a voluntary wound
Here, in the thigh: Can I bear that with patience, And not my husband's secrets?
O ye gods,
Render me worthy of this noble wife!
[Knocking within. Hark, hark! one knocks: Portia, go in a while; And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All my engagements I will construe to thee,
5 I grant, I am a woman; &c.] So, Lord Sterline : "And though our sex too talkative be deem'd,
"As those whose tongues import our greatest pow'rs, "For secrets still bad treasurers esteem'd,
"Of others' greedy, prodigal of ours;
"Good education may reform defects,
"And I this vantage have to a vertuous life,
"Which others' minds do want and mine respects,
A woman well-reputed; Cato's daughter.] By the expression well-reputed, she refers to the estimation in which she was held, as being the wife of Brutus; whilst the addition of Cato's daughter, implies that she might be expected to inherit the patriotic virtues of her father. It is with propriety therefore, that she immediately asks:
"Think you, I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father'd, and so husbanded?" HENLEY,
Enter LUCIUS and LIGARIUS.
Lucius, who is that, knocks ? Luc. Here is a sick man, that would speak with
BRU. Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of.Boy, stand aside.-Caius Ligarius! how?
LIG. Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.
BRU. O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,
To wear a kerchief' ? 'Would you were not sick!
7 All the CHARACTERY] i. e. "all that is character'd on," &c. The word has already occurred in The Merry Wives of Windsor. STEEVENS.
See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, vol. ix. p. 180, n. 8. Malone.
who is that, knocks?] i. e. who is that, who knocks? Our poet always prefers the familiar language of conversation to grammatical nicety. Four of his editors, however, have endeavoured to destroy this peculiarity, by reading-" who's there that knocks?" and a fifth has, "who's that, that knocks?"
9 O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,
To wear a kerchief?] So, in Plutarch's Life of Brutus, translated by North: " Brutus went to see him being sicke in his bedde, and sayed unto him, O Ligarius, in what a time art thou sicke? Ligarius rising up in his bedde, and taking him by the right hande, sayed unto him, Brutus, (sayed he,) if thou hast any great enterprise in hande worthie of thy selfe, I am whole." Lord Sterline also has introduced this passage into his Julius Cæsar :
By sickness being imprison'd in his bed
"Whilst I Ligarius spied, whom pains did prick,
"He answer'd straight, as I had physick brought,
If worthy of thyself thou would'st do aught,
Here it may be observed, Shakspeare gives to Rome the manners of his own time. It was a common practice in England for those who were sick to wear a kerchief on their heads, and still continues among the common people in many places. says Fuller, "this county [Cheshire], hath bred no writers in that