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The sufferance of our souls, the time's abuse,-
If these be motives weak, break off betimes,
And every man hence to his idle bed;
So let high-sighted tyranny range on,

Till each man drop by lottery 3. But if these,
As I am sure they do, bear fire enough

To kindle cowards, and to steel with valour
The melting spirits of women; then, countrymen,
What need we any spur, but our own cause,
To prick us to redress? what other bond,
Than secret Romans, that have spoke the word,
And will not palter? and what other oath,
Than honesty to honesty engag'd,

"I have with such provision in mine art,
"So safely order'd, that there is no soul—
"No, not so much perdition," &c.

Mr. M. Mason would read—" if not the faith of men—.” If the text be corrupt, faiths is more likely to have been the poet's word; which might have been easily confounded by the ear with face, the word exhibited in the old copy. So, in Antony and Cleopatra:

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the manner of their deaths?

"I do not see them bleed :

Again, in King Henry VI. Part III. :

"And with their helps only defend ourselves." Again, more appositely, in The Rape of Lucrece :


You, fair lords, quoth she,

"Shall plight your honourable faiths to me." MALONE. Gray may perhaps support Johnson's explanation:

"And read their history in a nation's eyes." Boswell.

5 Till each man drop by lottery.] Perhaps the poet alluded to the custom of decimation, i. e. the selection by lot of every tenth soldier, in a general mutiny, for punishment.

He speaks of this in Coriolanus :

"By decimation, and a tithed death,

"Take thou thy fate."


And will not PALTER ?] And will not fly from his engagements. Cole, in his Dictionary, 1679, renders to palter, by tergiversor. In Macbeth it signifies, as Dr. Johnson has observed, to shuffle with ambiguous expressions: and, indeed, here also it may mean to shuffle; for he whose actions do not correspond with his promises is properly called a shuffler. MALONE.

That this shall be, or we will fall for it?
Swear priests, and cowards, and men cautelous
Old feeble carrions, and such suffering souls
That welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear
Such creatures as men doubt: but do not stain
The even virtue of our enterprize 9,

Nor the insuppressive mettle of our spirits,

To think, that, or our cause, or our performance,
Did need an oath; when every drop of blood,
That every Roman bears, and nobly bears,
Is guilty of a several bastardy,

If he do break the smallest particle

Of any promise that hath pass'd from him.


CAS. But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him? I think, he will stand very strong with us.

CASCA. Let us not leave him out.


No, by no means.

MET. O let us have him; for his silver hairs Will purchase us a good opinion',

7 Swear priests, &c.] This is imitated by Otway :


66 When you would bind me, is there need of oaths?"

Venice Preserved. JOHNSON.

cautelous,] Is here cautious, sometimes insidious. So, in A Woman is a Weathercock, 1612: "Yet warn you, be as cautelous not to wound my integrity."

Again, in Drayton's Miseries of Queen Margaret :


Witty, well-spoken, cautelous, though young." Again, in the second of these two senses in the romance of Kynge Appolyn of Thyre, 1610: "—a fallacious policy and cautelous wyle."


Again, in Holinshed, p. 945: "the emperor's councell thought by a cautell to have brought the king in mind to sue for a licence from the pope." STEEVENS.

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Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 1616, explains cautelous thus: Warie, circumspect;" in which sense it is certainly used here. MALONE.

9 The EVEN virtue of our enterprize,] The calm, equable, temperate spirit that actuates us. MALONE.

Thus in Mr. Pope's Eloisa to Abelard :

"Desires compos'd, affections ever even—.”


And buy men's voices to commend our deeds:
It shall be said, his judgment rul'd our hands;
Our youths, and wildness, shall no whit appear,
But all be buried in his gravity.

BRU. O, name him not; let us not break with him;

For he will never follow any thing

That other men begin.


Then leave him out.

CASCA. Indeed he is not fit.

DEC. Shall no man else be touch'd but only Cæsar?

CAS. Decius, well urg'd:-I think it is not meet, Mark Antony, so well belov'd of Cæsar,

Should outlive Cæsar: We shall find of him
A shrewd contriver; and, you know, his means,
If he improves them, may well stretch so far,
As to annoy us all: which to prevent,

Let Antony, and Cæsar, fall together.

BRU. Our course will seem too bloody, Caius

To cut the head off, and then hack the limbs ;
Like wrath in death, and envy afterwards2:
For Antony is but a limb of Cæsar.

Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
We all stand up against the spirit of Cæsar,
And in the spirit of men there is no blood:
O, that we then could come by Cæsar's spirit3,
And not dismember Cæsar! But, alas,

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- opinion.] i. e. character. So, in King Henry IV. Part I. Act V. Sc. IV. :

"Thou hast redeem'd thy lost opinion." The quotation is Mr. Reed's. STEEVENS.

2-and ENVY afterwards :] Envy is here, as almost always in Shakspeare's plays, malice. MALONE.

3 O, that we then could come by Cæsar's spirit, &c.] Lord Sterline has the same thought: Brutus remonstrating against the taking off Antony, says:


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Cæsar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends,
Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods
Not hew him as a carcase fit for hounds 5:
And let our hearts, as subtle masters do,
Stir up their servants to an act of rage,
And after seem to chide them.
Our purpose necessary, and not envious:
Which so appearing to the common eyes,
We shall be call'd purgers, not murderers.
And for Mark Antony, think not of him;
For he can do no more than Cæsar's arm,
When Cæsar's head is off.

This shall make

CAS. Yet I do fear him 7: For in the ingrafted love he bears to Cæsar,

BRU. Alas, good Cassius, do not think of him :

If he love Cæsar, all that he can do

Is to himself; take thought, and die for Cæsar:

"Ah! ah! we must but too much murder see,
"That without doing evil cannot do good;

"And would the gods that Rome could be made free,
"Without the effusion of one drop of blood?"

4 --as a dish fit for the gods, &c.]

Gradive, dedisti,


Ne qua manus vatem, ne quid mortalia bello
Lædere tela queant, sanctum et venerabile Diti

Funus erat. Stat. Theb. vii. I. 696. STEEVENS.


5 Not hew him as a carcase fit for hounds :] Our author had probably the following passage in the old translation of Plutarch in his thoughts: - Cæsar turned himselfe no where but he was stricken at by some, and still had naked swords in his face, and was hacked and mangled among them as a wild beast taken of hunters.” MALONE.

6 Stir up their servants -] Another instance of the image which occurs, p. 38: "the mortal instruments." BOSWELL. 7. Yet I Do fear him :] For the sake of metre I have supplied the auxiliary verb. So, in Macbeth :



there is none but him

"Whose being I do fear." STEEVENS. take thought,] That is, turn melancholy.


And that were much he should; for he is given
To sports, to wildness, and much company.

TREB. There is no fear in him; let him not die; For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter.

BRU. Peace, count the clock.

[Clock strikes.

The clock hath stricken three.

TREB. 'Tis time to part.



But it is doubtful yet,

Whe'r* Cæsar will come forth to-day, or no ;

*First folio, Whether.

So, in Antony and Cleopatra:

"What shall we do, Enobarbus?

"Think and die."

Again, in Holinshed, p. 833:


now they are without service, which caused them to take thought, insomuch that some died by the way," &c. STEEVENS.


The precise meaning of take thought may be learned from the following passage in St. Matthew, where the verb μepuvaw, which signifies to anticipate, or forbode evil, is so rendered: Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."-Cassius not only refers to, but thus explains, the phrase in question, when, in answer to the assertion of Brutus concerning Antony, Act III. :

"I know that we shall have him well to friend; "

he replies:

"I wish we may but yet I have a mind

"That fears him much; and my misgiving still
"Falls shrewdly to the purpose.'

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To take thought then, in this instance, is not to turn melancholy, whatever think may be in Antony and Cleopatra. HENLEY. With great submission, I conceive that Mr. Henley is not quite correct in either of his positions. Mepuvaw, I apprehend, never signifies "to anticipate or forbode evil:" but to be distracted by anxious cares :' and so all the commentators expound it in the passage of St. Matthew vi. 25, &c. ; and Mr. Steevens's quotation from Holinshed, proves, I think, that Dr. Johnson's explanation of take thought in the lines before us is right. Thought is used for extreme grief in a curious letter printed by Mr. Gough in his edit. of Camden, ii. 142: "Oure goode and holsom modyr y' was abbesse is so weryd and brokyn with thowt." BLAKEWAY. See vol. xi. p. 410. VOL. XII.



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