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Yet now they fright me. There is one within,
And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead 3:
Fierce firy warriors fight upon the clouds,
In ranks, and squadrons, and right form of war1,
3 And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead: &c.] So, in a funeral song in Much Ado About Nothing: Graves, yawn, and yield your dead." Again, in Hamlet :
"A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
"The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
"Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets." MALONE. 4 Fierce firy warriors fight upon the clouds,
In ranks, and squadrons, and right form of war,] So, in Tacitus, Hist. b. v.: "Visa per cœlum concurrere acies, rutilantia arma, & subito nubium igne collucere," &c. STEEVENS. Again, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590:
"I will persist a terror to the world;
Making the meteors that like armed men
"For honour of my wondrous victories." MALONE.
5 The noise of battle HURTLED in the air,] To hurtle is, I suppose, to clash, or move with violence and noise. So, in Selimus, Emperor of the Turks, 1594:
"Here the Polonian he comes hurtling in, "Under the conduct of some foreign prince." Again, ibid. :
"To toss the spear, and in a warlike gyre "To hurtle my sharp sword about my head." Shakspeare uses the word again in As You Like It: in which hurtling,
"From miserable slumber I awak'd." STEEVENS. Again, in The History of Arthur, Part I. c. xiv. : They made both the Northumberland battailes to hurtle together." BowLE.
To hurtle originally signified to push violently; and, as in such an action a loud noise was frequently made, it afterwards seems
Horses do neigh, and dying men did groan ;
What can be avoided, Whose end is purpos'd by the mighty gods? Yet Cæsar shall go forth: for these predictions Are to the world in general, as to Cæsar.
CAL. When beggars die, there are no comets
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes R.
to have been used in the sense of to clash. So, in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, v. 2618:
"And he him hurtleth with his hors adoun." MALONE. 6 Horses DID neigh,] Thus the second folio. predecessor reads:
"Horses do neigh." STEEVENS. Yet Mr. Steevens does not object to fierce firy warriors fight," not fought. Mr. Malone has followed the original copy.
7 And ghosts did shriek, and squeal about the streets.] So, in Lodge's Looking Glasse for London and England, 1598: "The ghosts of dead men howling walke about,
Crying Ve, Ve, woe to this citie, woe." TODD. 8 When beggars die, there are no COMETS seen;
The heavens themselves BLAZE forth the death of PRINCES.] "Next to the shadows and pretences of experience, (which have been met withall at large,) they seem to brag most of the strange events which follow (for the most part,) after blazing starres; as if they were the summoners of God to call princes to the seat of judgment. The surest way to shake their painted bulwarks of experience is, by making plaine, that neyther princes always dye when comets blaze, nor comets ever [i. e. always] when princes dye." Defensative against the Poison of supposed Prophecies, by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, 1583.
Again, ibid." Let us look into the nature of a comet, by the face of which it is supposed that the same should portend plague, famine, warre, or the death of potentates.”
I will add one more quotation from the same work, as it contains an anecdote of Queen Elizabeth: "I can affirme thus much as a present witnesse by mine owne experience, that when dyvers upon greater scrupulosity then cause, went about to disswade her majestye, (lying then at Richmonde) from looking on the comet
CES. Cowards die many times before their deaths";
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard',
Re-enter a Servant. What say the augurers ? SERV. They would not have you to stir forth today.
which appeared last with a courage answerable to the greatnesse of her state, shee caused the windowe to be sette open, and cast out thys word, jacta est alea, the dice are thrown, &c.
9 Cowards die many times before their deaths ;] So, in Marston's Insatiate Countess, 1613:
"Fear is my vassal; when I frown, he flies,
Lord Essex, probably before either of these writers, made the same remark. In a letter to Lord Rutland, he observes, that as he which dieth nobly, doth live for ever, so he that doth live in fear, doth die continually." MALONE.
So, in the ancient translation of Plutarch, so often quoted: "When some of his friends did counsel him to have a guard for the safety of his person; he would never consent to it, but said, it was better to die once, than always to be affrayed of death." STEEVENS.
As a specimen of Mr. Steevens's love of mischief, I may mention that by putting the quotation from Plutarch first, and changing the words either of these writers, i. e. Shakspeare or Marston, to any; he made Mr. Malone appear to write nonsense. BOSWELL.
that I yet have heard,] This sentiment appears to have been imitated by Dr. Young in his tragedy of Busiris, King of Egypt:
Didst thou e'er fear?
"Sure 'tis an art; I know not how to fear;
Thy master is immortal.".
death, a necessary end, &c.] This is a sentence derived from the stoical doctrine of predestination, and is therefore improper in the mouth of Cæsar.
Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
CES. The gods do this in shame of cowardice": Cæsar should be a beast without a heart, If he should stay at home to-day for fear. No, Cæsar shall not: Danger knows full well, That Cæsar is more dangerous than he. We were two lions litter'd in one day,
3 — in shame of cowardice:] The ancients did not place courage, but wisdom, in the heart.
Dr. Johnson remarks on this occasion, that "the ancients did not place courage in the heart." He had forgotten his classics strangely.
Nunc animis opus, Ænea, nunc pectore firmo. En. vi. 261.
En. ii. 263.
Teucrûm mirantur inertia corda. En. ix. 55.
Nescio quæ pavidum frigora pectus habent.
4 WE WERE -] In old editions:
Mr. Upton recommends us to read: "We are--.” This resembles the boast of Otho:
The copies have been all corrupt, and the passage, of course, unintelligible. But the slight alteration I have made, [We were] restores sense to the whole; and the sentiment will neither be unworthy of Shakspeare, nor the boast too extravagant for Cæsar in a vein of vanity to utter: that he and danger were two twinwhelps of a lion, and he the elder, and more terrible of the two. THEOBALD.
Experti invicem sumus, Ego et Fortuna.
It is not easy to determine which of the two readings has the best claim to a place in the text. If Theobald's emendation be adopted, the phraseology, though less elegant, is perhaps more Shakspearian. It may mean the same as if he had written—“We two lions were litter'd in one day," and I am the elder and more terrible of the two. MALONE.
And I the elder and more terrible;
CES. Mark Antony shall say, I am not well;
Here's Decius Brutus, he shall tell them so.
I come to fetch you to the senate-house.
CES. And you are come in very happy time,
5- Cæsar shall go forth,] Any speech of Cæsar, throughout this scene, will appear to disadvantage, if compared with the following sentiments, put into his mouth by May, in the seventh book of his Supplement to Lucan:
-Plus me, Calphurnia, luctus
Et lachrymæ movere tuæ, quam tristia vatum
(Dum nec luce frui, nec mortem arcere licebit)
There cannot be a stronger proof of Shakspeare's deficiency in classical knowledge, than the boastful language he has put in the mouth of the most accomplished man of all antiquity, who was not more admirable for his achievements, than for the dignified simplicity with which he has recorded them. BoSWELL.