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Re-enter Lucius. Luc. Sir, 'tis your brother Cassius ° at the door, Who doth desire to see you.
The more usual signification now affixed to this word was not known till several years afterwards. I have not found it in the common modern sense in any book earlier than the Dictionary published by Edward Phillips, in 1657.
Mortal is certainly used here, as in many other places, for deadly. So, in Othello :
“ And you, ye mortal engines,”. &c. The mortal instruments then are, the deadly passions, or as they are called in Macbeth, the “mortal thoughts,” which excite each corporal agent to the performance of some arduous deed.
The little kingdom of man is a notion that Shakspeare seems to have been fond of. So, K. Richard II. speaking of himself:
“ And these same thoughts people this little world." Again, in King Lear:
“ Strives in his little world of man to outscorn
“ The to-and-fro conflicting wind and rain.” Again, in King John :
in the body of this fleshly land, * This kingdom-" I have adhered to the old copy, which reads—“ the state of a man.” Shakspeare is here speaking of the individual in whose mind the genius and the mortal instruments hold a council, not of man, or mankind, in general. The passage above, quoted from King Lear, does not militate against the old copy here.
There the individual is marked out by the word his, and the little world of man is thus circumscribed, and appropriated to Lear. The editor of the second folio omitted the article, probably from a mistaken notion concerning the metre; and all the subsequent editors have adopted his alteration. Many words of two syllables are used by Shakspeare as taking up the time of only one ; as whether, either, brother, lover, gentle, spirit, &c. and I suppose council is so used here.
The reading of the old authentick copy, to which I have adhered, is supported by a passage in Hamlet : What a piece of work is a man.”
As council is here used as a monosyllable, so is noble in Titus Andronicus :
“ Lose not so noble a friend on vain suppose.” Malone. Influenced by the conduct of our great predecessors, Rowe, Pope, Warburton, and Johnson; and for reasons similar to those advanced in the next note, I persist in following the second folio, BRU.
Is he alone ? Luc. No, sir, there are more with him.. as our author, on this occasion, meant to write verse instead of prose. The instance from Hamlet can have little weight; the article-a, which is injurious to the metre in question, being quite innocent in a speech decidedly prosaick : and as for the line adduced from Titus Andronicus, the second syllable of the word -noble, may be melted down into the succeeding vowel, an advantage which cannot be obtained in favour of the present restoration offered from the first folio. STEEVENS.
Neither our author, nor any other author in the world, ever used such words as either, brother, lover, gentle, &c. as monosyllables ; and though whether is sometimes so contracted, the old copies on that occasion usually print-where. It is, in short, morally impossible that two syllables should be no more than one.
Ritson. See the Essay on Shakspeare's Versification. Boswell.
“ The Genius, and the mortal instruments.” Mortal is assuredly deadly, as it is in Macbeth, vol. xi. p. 62:
Come, you spirits,
“ That tend on mortal thoughts." But I cannot think that these mortal instruments are the deadly passions; the passions are rather the motives exciting us to use our instruments, by which I understand our bodily powers, our members :-As Othello calls his eyes and hands, “ His speculative and active instruments,” vol. x. p. 278 : and Menenius, in Coriolanus, Act I. Sc. I., speaks of the
cranks and offices of man, “ The strongest nerves and small inferior veins.” So, intending to paint, as he does very finely, the inward conflict which precedes the commission of some dreadful crime, he represents, as I conceive him, the genius or soul, consulting with the body, and, as it were, questioning the limbs, the instruments which are to perform this deed of death, whether they can undertake to bear her out in the aftair, whether they can screw up their courage to do what she shall enjoin them. The tumultuous commotion of opposing sentiments and feelings produced by the firmness of the soul contending with the secret misgivings of the body, during which the mental faculties, are, though not actually dormant, yet in a sort of waking stupor, “ crushed by one overwhelming image,” is finely compared to a phantasm or a hideous dream, and by the state of man suffering the nature of an insurrection. Tibalt has something like it in Romeo and Juliet, vol. vi.
Do you know them? Luc. No, sir; their hats are pluck'd about their
Let them enter.
[Exit Lucius. They are the faction. O conspiracy Sham’st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night, When evils are most free? O, then, by day, Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, con
spiracy; Hide in it smiles, and affability : For if thou path, thy native semblance on?,
And what Macbeth says of himself, in a situation nearly allied to this of Brutus, will in some degree elucidate the passage before
My thought whose murder yet is but fantastical, “ Shakes so my single state of man, that function
“ Is smother'd in surmise.” BLAKEWAY. 8 Like a PHANTASMA] “ Suidas maketh a difference between phantasma and phantasia, saying that phantasma is an imagination, or appearance, or sight of a thing which is not, as are those sightes whiche men in their sleepe do thinke they see : but that phantasia is the seeing of that only which is in very deeds." Lavaterus, 1572. HENDERSON.
A phantasme,” says Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 1616, “ is a vision, or imagined appearance." MALONE.
your brother CASSIUS-] Cassius married Junia, Brutus's sister. STEEVENS. any mark of favour.] Any distinction of countenance.
JOHNSON. 2 For if thou PATH, thy native semblance on,] If thou walk in thy true form. Johnson. The same verb is used by Drayton in his Polyolbion, Song II. :
“ Where, from the neighbouring hills, her passage Wey doth Again, in his Epistle from Duke Humphrey to Elinor Cobham:
Pathing young Henry's unadvised ways.” Steevens.
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
CIMBER, and TREBONIUS.
Bru. I have been up this hour; awake, all night. Know I these men, that come along with you ? Cas. Yes, every man of them; and no man
He is welcome hither.
He is welcome too.
They are all welcome. What watchful cares do interpose themselves Betwixt your eyes and night ?
CAS. Shall I entreat a word ? [They whisper.
Cın. O, pardon, sir, it doth; and yon grey lines, That fret the clouds, are messengers of day. Casca. You shall confess, that you are both de
do interpose themselves, &c.] For the sake of measure I am willing to think our author wrote as follows, and that the word-themselves, is an interpolation :
“What watchful cares do interpose betwixt
Shall I entreat a word ?
Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises ;
Bru. Give me your hands all over, one by one.
4 No, not an oath : If not the face of men, &c.] Dr. Warburton would read “ fate of men;" but his elaborate emendation is, I think, erroneous. The “ face of men” is the countenance, the regard, the esteem of the public;' in other terms, honour and reputation; or the face of men” may mean the dejected look of the people. Johnson.
So, Tully in Catilinam—“ Nihil horum ora vultusque moverunt?"
Shakspeare formed this speech on the following passage in Sir T. North's translation of Plutarch :-“ The conspirators having never taken oaths together, nor taken or given any caution or assurance, nor binding themselves one to another by any religious oaths, they kept the matter so secret to themselves,” &c.
Steevens. I cannot reconcile myself to Johnson's explanation of this passage, but believe we should read :
If not the faith of men,” &c. which is supported by the following passage in this very speech :
What other bond
when every drop of blood
“Of any promise that hath pass'd from him." Both of which prove, that Brutus considered the faith of men as their firmest security in each other. M. Mason.
In this sentence, [i. e. the two first lines of the speech,] as in several others, Shakspeare, with a view perhaps to imitate the abruptness and inaccuracy of discourse, has constructed the latter part without any regard to the beginning.
“ If the face of men, the sufferance of our souls, &c. If these be not sufficient ; if these be motives weak,” &c. So, in The Tempest :