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To think that Cæsar bears such rebel blood,
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
" 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 all line of order.” In an ancient bl. I. 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.
Know, Cæsar doth not wrong ; nor without cause
Mer. Is there no voice more worthy than my
own, To sound more sweetly in great Cæsar's ear, For the repealing of my banish'd brother?
Bru. I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Cæsar; Desiring thee, that Publius Cimber
may Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
Cæs. 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,
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 na
To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.
CES. I could be well mov'd, if I were as you ;
Cin. O Cæsar,
9 - apprehensive;] Susceptible of fear, or other passions.
JOHNSON. Apprehensive does not mean, as Johnson explains it, susceptible of fear, but intelligent, capable of apprehending.
M. Mason. So, in King Henry IV. Part II. Act IV. Sc. III. : “ — makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive," &c. STEEVENS. but one --] One and only one.
Johnson. - holds on his RANK,] Perhaps,
“ holds on his race ; 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,
" There is no fellow in the firmament." “ Hold on his rank,” in one part of the comparison, has precisely the same import with hold his place, in the other.
M. Mason. 3 Unshak'd of motion :] .i. e. Unshak'd by suit or solicitation, of which the object is to move the person addressed. Malone.
Dec. Great Cæsar,
Doth not Brutus bootless kneel 4 ? CASCA. Speak, hands, for me. [Casca stabs Cæsar in the Neck. CÆSAR
catches hold of his Arm. He is then stabbed by several other Conspirators, and at
last by Marcus BRUTUS. Cæs. Et tu, Brute ?- Then fall, Cæsar. [Dies. The Senators and People retire in
confusion. 4 Doth not Brutus bootless kneel ?] I would read :
“ Do not Brutus bootless kneel !” Johnson. I cannot subscribe to Dr. Johnson's opinion. Cæsar, as some of the conspirators are pressing round him, answers their importunity properly: “ See you not my own Brutus kneeling in vain? What success can you expect to your solicitations, when his are ineffectual ?" This might have put my learned coadjutor in mind of the passage of Homer, which he has so elegantly introduced in his preface. “ Thou (said Achilles to his captive) when so great a man as Patroclus has fallen before thee, dost thou complain of the common lot of mortality?" Steevens.
The editor of the second folio saw this passage in the same light as Dr. Johnson did, and made this improper alteration. By Brutus here Shakspeare certainly meant Marcus Brutus, because he has confounded him with Decimus (or Decius as he calls him); and imagined that Marcus Brutus was the peculiar favourite of Cæsar, calling him “his well beloved ; ” whereas in fact it was Decimus Brutus that Cæsar was particularly attached to, appointing him by his will his second heir, that is, in remainder after his primary devisees. Malone.
See p. 9, n. 1. STEVENS.
5 Et tu, Brute ?] Suetonius says, that when Cæsar put Metellus Cimber back," he caught hold of Cæsar's gowne at both shoulders, whereupon as he cried out, This is violence, Cassius came in second full a front, and wounded him a little beneath the throat. Then Cæsar catching Cassius by the arme thrust it through with his stile, or writing punches; and with that being about to leape forward, he was met with another wound and stayed.” Being then assailed on all sides,“ with three and twenty wounds he was stabbed, during which time he gave but one groan, (without any word uttered,) and that was at the first thrust; though some have written, that as Marcus Brutus came running upon him, he said, nai vú téxvov, and thou,
Holland's Translation, 1607.
Cin. Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead ! Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
Cas. Some to the common pulpits, and cry out, Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement !
Bru. People, and senators ! be not affrighted; Fly not; stand still :-ambition's debt is paid.
Casca. Go to the pulpit, Brutus 6.
No mention is here made of the Latin exclamation, which our author has attributed to Cæsar, nor did North furnish him with it, or with English words of the same import, as might naturally have been supposed. Plutarch says, that on receiving his first wound from Casca, “he caught hold of Casca's sword, and held it hard ; and they both cried out, Cæsar in Latin, O vile trailor, Casca ; what doest thou ? and Casca in Greek to his brother, Brother, help me.”—The conspirators then“ compassed him on every side with their swordes drawn in their handes, that Cæsar turned him no where but he was stricken by some, and still had naked swords in his face, and was hacked and mangled amongst them as a wild beast taken of hunters. And then Brutus himself gave
him one wound above the privities.—Men report also, that Cæsar did still defend himself against the reste, running every way with his bodie, but when he saw Brutus with his sworde drawen his hande, then he pulled his gowne over his heade, and made no more resistance.”
Neither of these writers therefore, we see, furnished Shakspeare with this exclamation. His authority appears to have been a line in the old play, entitled, The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. printed in 1600, on which he formed his Third Part of King Henry VI. :
“ Et tu, Brute? Wilt thou stab Cæsar too ? " This line Shakspeare rejected, when he wrote the piece above mentioned, but it appears it had made an impression on his memory. The same line is also found in Acolastus his Afterwitte, a poem, by S. Nicholson, printed in 1600 :
" Et tu, Brute? Wilt thou stab Cæsar too ?
“ Thou art my friend, and wilt not see me wrong’d." So, in Cæsar's Legend, Mirror for Magistrates, 1587 : “O this, quoth I, is violence ; then Cassius pierc'd my breast; " And Brutus thou, my sonne, quoth I, whom erst I loved best.”
The Latin words probably appeared originally in the old Latin play on this subject. See the Preliminary Remarks. Malone.
Go to the pulpit, Brutus.] We have now taken leave of Casca. Shakspeare for once knew that he had a sufficient number of heroes on his hands, and was glad to lose an individual in the