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I have not known when his affections sway'd
chievous ; And kill him in the shell.
common proof,] Common experiment. Johnson. Common proof means a matter proved by common experience. With great deference to Johnson, I cannot think that the word experiment will bear that meaning. M. Mason. * But when he once attains the utmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back, &c.] So, in Daniel's Civil Wars, 1602:
“ The aspirer once attain'd unto the top,
“ Doth curb that looseness he did find before :
“ His own example makes him fear the more.” Malone.,
base degrees —] Low steps. Johnson. So, in Ben Jonson's Sejanus : “ Whom when he saw lie spread on the degrees."
Steevens. as his kind,] According to his nature. Johnson. So, in Antony and Cleopatra: “ You must think this, look you, the worm [i. e. serpent] will do his kind.” Steevens. Perhaps rather, as all those of his kind, that is, nature.
MALONE. “ As his kind” does not mean, according to his nature,” as Johnson asserts, but “like the rest of his species.” M. Mason.
Bru. Get you to bed again, it is not day.
Luc. I know not, sir.
[Exit. Bru. The exhalations, whizzing in the air, Give so much light, that I may read by them.
[Opens the Letter, and reads.
4 Is not to-morrow, boy, the ides of MARCH ?] [Old copythe first of įMarch.) We should read ides : for we can never suppose the speaker to have lost fourteen days in his account. He is here plainly ruminating on what the Soothsayer told Cæsar [Act I. Sc. II.] in his presence. ["—Beware the ides of March."] The boy comes back and says, Sir, March is wasted fourteen days.” So that the morrow was the ides of March, as he supposed. For March, May, July, and October, had six nones each, so that the fifteenth of March was the ides of that month.
WARBURTON. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. The error - must have been that of a transcriber or printer; for our author without any minute calculation might have found the ides, nones, and kalends, opposite the respective days of the month, in the Almanacks of the time. In Hopton's Concordancie of Yeares, 1616, now before me, opposite to the fifteenth of March is printed Idus.
The Tarquin drive, when he was call'd a king.
[Knock within. Bru. 'Tis good. Go to the gate; somebody knocks.
[Exit Lucius. Since Cassius first did whet me against Cæsar, I have not slept. Between the acting of a dreadful thing And the first motion”, all the interim is
- Am I entreated then -] The adverb then, which enforces the question, and is necessary to the metre, was judiciously supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer. So, in King Richard III. :
wilt thou then “ Spurn at his edict-?" Steevens. March is wasted FOURTEEN days.] In former editions :
“Sir, March is wasted fifteen days." The editors are slightly mistaken: it was wasted but fourteen days : this was the dawn of the 15th, when the boy makes his report. TheoBALD. . Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, &c.] That nice critick, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, complains, that all kind of beauties, those great strokes which he calls the terrible graces, and which are so frequent in Homer, are the rarest to be found in the following writers. Amongst our countrymen, it seems to be as much confined to the British Homer. This description of the condition of conspirators, before the execution of their design, has a pomp and terror in it that perfectly astonishes. The excellent Mr. Addison, whose modesty made him sometimes diffident of his own genius, but whose true judgment always led him to the safest guides, (as we may see by those fine strokes in his Cato borrowed from the Philippics of Cicero,) has paraphrased this fine description ; but we are no longer to expect those terrible graces which animate his original :
Like a phantasma", or a hideous dream: The Genius, and the mortal instruments, “ O think, what anxious moments pass
between “ The birth of plots, and their last fatal periods.
Oh, 'tis a dreadful interval of time,
« Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death.” Cato. I shall make two remarks on this fine imitation. The first is, that the subjects of the two conspiracies being so very different (the fortunes of Cæsar and the Roman empire being concerned in the one ; and that of a few auxiliary troops only in the other,) Mr. Addison could not, with propriety, bring in that magnificent circumstance which gives one of the terrible graces of Shakspeare's description :
“ The genius and the mortal instruments
" Are then in council." For kingdoms, in The Pagan Theology, besides their good, had their evil geniuses, likewise represented here, with the most daring stretch of fancy, as sitting in consultation with the conspirators, whom he calls their mortal instruments. But this, as we say, would have been too pompous an apparatus to the rape and desertion of Syphax and Sempronius. The other thing observable is, that Mr. Addision was so struck and affected with these terrible graces in his original, that instead of imitating his author's sentiments, he hath, before he was aware, given us only the copy of his own impressions made by them. For
Oh, 'tis a dreadful interval of time,
“ Fillid up with horror all, and big with death."
All the interim is
the state of man,
“ The nature of an insurrection.” Comparing the troubled mind of a conspirator to a state of anarchy, is just and beautiful ; but the interim or interval, to an hideous vision, or a frightful dream, holds something so wonder'fully of truth, and lays the soul so open, that one can hardly think it possible for any man, who had not some time or other been engaged in a conspiracy, to give such force of colouring to nature. WARBURTON.
The dzīvov of the Greek criticks does not, I think, mean sentiments which raise fear, more than wonder, or any other of the tumultuous passions ; Tè deivov is that which strikes, which astonishes with the idea either of some great subject, or of the author's abilities.
Are then in council; and the state of a man,
Dr. Warburton's pompous criticism might well have been shortened. The genius is not the genius of a kingdom, nor are the instruments, conspirators. Shakspeare is describing what passes in a single bosom, the insurrection which a conspirator feels agitating the little kingdom of his own mind; when the gerius, or power that watches for his protection, and the mortal instruments, the passions, which excite him to a deed of honour and danger, are in council and debate ; when the desire of action, and the care of safety, keep the mind in continual fluctuation and disturbance. Johnson.
The foregoing was perhaps among the earliest notes written by Dr. Warburton on Shakspeare. Though it was not inserted by him in Theobald's editions, 1732 and 1740, (but was reserved for his own in 1747,) yet he had previously communicated it, with little variation, in a letter to Matthew Concanen in the year 1726. See a note on Dr. Akenside's Ode to Mr. Edwards, at the end of this play. Steevens.
There is a passage in Troilus and Cressida, which bears some resemblance to this :
Kingdom'd Achilles in commotion rages,
“ And batters down himself. Johnson is right in asserting that by the Genius is meant, not the Genius of a Kingdom, but the power that watches over an individual for his protection.--So, in the same play, Troilus says to Cressida :
“ Hark! you are call’d. Some say, the Genius so
Cries, Come, to him that instantly must die." Johnson's explanation of the word instruments is also confirmed by the following passage in Macbeth, whose mind was, at the time, in the very state which Brutus is here describing :
I settled, and bend up “ Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.” M. Mason. The word genius, in our author's time, meant either a good angel or a familiar evil spirit,” and is so defined by Bullokar in his English Expositor, 1616. So, in Macbeth :
- and, under him,
“ Mark Antony's was by Cæsar's.” Again, in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ Thy dæmon, that thy spirit which keeps thee, is,” &c.