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Cassius, be constant:
Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes;
For, look, he smiles, and Cæsar doth not change. CAS. Trebonius knows his time; for, look you, Brutus,
He draws Mark Antony out of the way.
[Exeunt ANTONY and TREBONIUS.
and the Senators take their Seats. DEC. Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him go, And presently prefer his suit to Cæsar.
BRU. He is address'd3: press near, and second
emendation, that if it had been proposed by any former editor, I should have given it a place in the text: " Popilius Læna, that had talked before with Brutus and Cassius, and had prayed the gods they might bring this enterprize to pass, went unto Cæsar, and kept him a long time with a talke.-Wherefore the conspirators-conjecturing by that he had tolde them a little before, that his talke was none other but the verie discoverie of their conspiracie, they were affrayed euerie man of them, and one looking in another's face, it was easie to see that they were all of a minde, that it was no tarrying for them till they were apprehended, but rather that they should kill themselves with their own handes. And when Cassius and certain others clapped their handes on their swordes under their gownes to draw them, Brutus, marking the countenance and gesture of Læna, &c. with a pleasant countenance encouraged Cassius," &c.
They clapped their hands on their daggers undoubtedly to be ready to kill themselves, if they were discovered. Shakspeare was induced to give this sentiment to Cassius, as being exactly agreeable to his character, and to that spirit which has appeared in a former scene:
I know where I will wear this dagger then; "Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius." MALONE. The disjunctive is right, and the sense apparent. 'If our purpose is discovered, either Cæsar or I shall never return alive; for, if we cannot kill him, I will certainly slay myself.' The conspirators were numerous and resolute, and had they been betrayed, the confusion that must have arisen might have afforded desperate men an opportunity to despatch the tyrant. RITSON. 3 He is ADDRESS'D;] i. e. he is ready. STEEVENS.
CIN. Casca, you are the first that rears your
CES. Are we all ready? what is now amiss, That Cæsar, and his senate, must redress 5 ?
MET. Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Cæsar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat
An humble heart:
I must prevent thee, Cimber.
These couchings, and these lowly courtesies,
Be not fond,
you are the first that rears your hand.] This, I think, is not English. The first folio has reares, which is not much better. To reduce the passage to the rules of grammar, we should read— "You are the first that rears his hand." TYRWHITT.
According to the rules of grammar Shakspeare certainly should have written his hand ; but he is often thus inaccurate.
last Act of this play, Cassius says of himself
Cassius is aweary of the world ;
all his faults observ'd,
"Set in a note-book, learn'd and conn'd by rote,
So, in the
There in strict propriety our poet certainly should have written 66 into his teeth." MALONE.
As this and similar offences against grammar, might have originated only from the ignorance of the players or their printers, I cannot concur in representing such mistakes as the positive inaccuracies of Shakspeare. According to this mode of reasoning, the false spellings of the first folio, as often as they are exampled by corresponding false spellings in the same book, may also be charged upon our author. STEEVENS.
5 Cin. Casca, you are the first that rear your hand. Cæs. Are we all ready? What is now amiss,
That Cæsar, and his senate, must redress ?] The words"Are we all ready?" seem to belong more properly to Cinna's speech, than to Cæsar's. RITSON.
6 And turn PRE-ORDINANCE,] Pre-ordinance, for ordinance already established. WARBURTon.
7 Into the Law of children.] [Old copy-lane.] I do not well
To think that Cæsar bears such rebel blood,
With that which melteth fools; I mean, sweet words,
Low-crooked curt'sies, and base spaniel fawning.
If thou dost bend, and pray, and fawn for him,
Know, Cæsar doth not wrong; nor without cause
understand what is meant by the lane of children. I should read, "the law of children." That is, change pre-ordinance and decree into the law of children;" into such slight determinations as every start of will would alter. Lane and lawe in some manuscripts are not easily distinguished. JOHNSON.
If the lane of children be the true reading, it may possibly receive illustration from the following passage in Ben Jonson's Staple of News:
A narrow-minded man! my thoughts do dwell "All in a lane."
The "lane of children" will then mean the narrow conceits of children, which must change as their minds grow more enlarged. So, in Hamlet:
"For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
"In thewes and bulk; but as this temple waxes,
"Grows wide withal."
But even this explanation is harsh and violent. Perhaps the poet wrote:-" in the line of children," i. e. after the method or manner of children. In Troilus and Cressida, he uses line for method, course:
In an ancient bl. 1. ballad, entitled, Household Talk, or Good Councel for a Married Man, I meet indeed with a phrase somewhat similar to the lane of children:
Neighbour Roger, when you come
"Into the row of neighbours married." STEEVens. The w of Shakspeare's time differed from an n only by a small curl at the bottom of the second stroke, which if an e happened to follow, could scarcely be perceived. I have not hesitated therefore to adopt Dr. Johnson's emendation. The words preordinance and decree strongly support it. MALOne.
8 Know, Cæsar doth not wrong; nor without cause
Will he be satisfied.] Ben Jonson quotes this line unfaith
MET. Is there no voice more worthy than my
To sound more sweetly in great Cæsar's ear,
BRU. I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Cæsar; Desiring thee, that Publius Cimber may
Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
CES. What, Brutus !
Pardon, Cæsar; Cæsar, pardon :
As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall,
fully among his Discoveries, and ridicules it again in the Introduction to his Staple of News: Cry you mercy; you never did
wrong, but with just cause? STEEVENS.
It may be doubted, I think, whether Jonson has quoted this line unfaithfully. The turn of the sentence, and the defect in the metre (according to the present reading,) rather incline me to believe that the passage stood originally thus:
Know, Cæsar doth not wrong, but with just cause;
"Nor without cause will he be satisfied."
We may suppose that Ben started this formidable criticism at one of the earliest representations of the play, and that the players, or perhaps Shakspeare himself, over-awed by so great an authority, withdrew the words in question; though, in my opinion, it would have been better to have told the captious censurer that his criticism was ill founded; that wrong is not always a synonymous term for injury; that, in poetical language especially, it may be very well understood to mean only harm, or hurt, what the law calls damnum sine injuriâ; and that, in this sense, there is nothing absurd in Cæsar's saying, that he doth not wrong (i. e. doth not inflict any evil, or punishment) but with just cause. But, supposing this passage to have been really censurable, and to have been written by Shakspeare, the exceptionable words were undoubtedly left out when the play was printed in 1623; and therefore what are we to think of the malignant pleasure with which Jonson continued to ridicule his deceased friend for a slip, of which posterity, without his information, would have been totally ignorant? TYRWHITT.
Mr. Tyrwhitt's interpretation of the word wrong is supported by a line in our author's Rape of Lucrece :
"Time's glory is
"To wrong the wronger, till he render right." MALONE. Thus also, in King Henry IV. Part II. where Justice Shallow assures Davy that his friend (an arrant knave)" shall have no wrong." STEEVENS.
To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.
CES. I could be well mov'd, if I were as you; If I could pray to move, prayers would move me: But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd, and resting quality,
The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,
That I was constant, Cimber should be banish'd,
CIN. O Cæsar,
Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus?
9 — apprehensive ;] Susceptible of fear, or other passions.
Apprehensive does not mean, as Johnson explains it, susceptible of fear, but intelligent, capable of apprehending.
So, in King Henry IV. Part II. Act IV. Sc. III. : apprehensive, quick, forgetive," &c. STEEVENS. - but one-] One and only one.
"holds on his race; holds on his RANK,] Perhaps, continues his course. We commonly say, To hold a rank, and to hold on a course or way. JOHNSON.
To "hold on his rank," is to "continue to hold it;" and I take rank to be the right reading. The word race, which Johnson proposes, would but ill agree with the following words, "unshak'd of motion," or with the comparison to the polar star :—
"Of whose true fix'd, and resting quality,
"Hold on his rank," in one part of the comparison, has precisely the same import with hold his place, in the other.
3 Unshak'd of motion:] i. e. Unshak'd by suit or solicitation, of which the object is to move the person addressed. MALONE.