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CASCA. He doth; for he did bid Antonius Send word to you, he would be there to-morrow. CIC. Good night then, Casca: this disturbed sky Is not to walk in.
Farewell, Cicero. [Exit CICERO.
CAS. Who's there?
Casca, by your voice. CASCA. Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this?
CAS. A very pleasing night to honest men.
For my part, I have walk'd about the streets,
CASCA. But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens?
It is the part of men to fear and tremble,
— thunder-stone:] A stone fabulously supposed to be discharged by thunder. So, in Cymbeline:
"Fear no more the lightning-flash,
"Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone." STEEVENS.
CAS. You are dull, Casca; and those sparks of life
That should be in a Roman, you do want,
Why birds, and beasts, from quality and kind; &c.] That is, Why they deviate from quality and nature. This line might perhaps be more properly placed after the next line:
Why birds, and beasts, from quality and kind,
and children calculate;] Calculate here signifies to foretel or prophesy: for the custom of foretelling fortunes by judicial astrology (which was at that time much in vogue) being performed by a long tedious calculation, Shakspeare, with his usual liberty, employs the species [calculate] for the genus [foretel]. WARBURTON.
Shakspeare found the liberty established. To calculate the nativity, is the technical term. JOHNSON.
So, in The Paradise of Daintie Deuises, edit. 1576, Art. 54, signed, M. Bew:
"Thei calculate, thei chaunt, thei charme, "To conquere us that meane no harme." This author is speaking of women. STEEVENS.
There is certainly no prodigy in old men's calculating from their past experience. The wonder is, that old men should not, and that children should. I would therefore [instead of old men, fools, and children, &c.] point thus:
Why old men fools, and children calculate.
To make them instruments of fear, and warning, Unto some monstrous state. Now could I, Casca, Name to thee a man most like this dreadful night; That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars As doth the lion in the Capitol:
A man no mightier than thyself, or me,
CASCA. 'Tis Cæsar that you mean: Is it not,
CAS. Let it be who it is: for Romans now Have thewes and limbs like to their ancestors; But, woe the while! our fathers' minds are dead, And we are govern'd with our mothers' spirits; Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.
CASCA. Indeed, they say, the senators to-morrow Mean to establish Cæsar as a king: And he shall wear his crown by sea, and land, In every place, save here in Italy.
CAS. I know where I will wear this dagger then; Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius : Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong; Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat: Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Troilus and Cressida:
"It is prodigious, there will be some change." See Vol. IV. p. 496, n. 6. STEEVENS.
prodigious grown,] Prodigious is portentous. So, in
• Have thewes and limbs-] Thewes is an obsolete word implying nerves or muscular strength. It is used by Falstaff in The Second Part of King Henry IV. and in Hamlet:
"For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
The two last folios, [1664 and 1685,] in which some words are injudiciously modernized, read-sinews. STEEVENS.
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit;
So can I:
CAS. And why should Cæsar be a tyrant then? Poor man! I know, he would not be a wolf, But that he sees the Romans are but sheep: He were no lion, were not Romans hinds. Those that with haste will make a mighty fire, Begin it with weak straws: What trash is Rome, What rubbish, and what offal, when it serves For the base matter to illuminate So vile a thing as Cæsar? But, O, grief! Where hast thou led me? I, perhaps, speak this Before a willing bondman: then I know My answer must be made:2 But I am arm'd, And dangers are to me indifferent.
CASCA. You speak to Casca; and to such a man, That is no fleering tell-tale. Hold my hand:3
The power to cancel his captivity.] So, in Cymbeline, Act V. Posthumus speaking of his chains:
take this life,
"And cancel these cold bonds."
My answer must be made:] I shall be called to account, and must answer as for seditious words. JOHNSON.
So, in Much Ado about Nothing: "Sweet prince, let me go no further to mine answer; do you hear me, and let this count kill me." STEEVENS.
Hold my hand:] Is the same as, Here's
Be factious for redress* of all these griefs;
There's a bargain made. Now know you, Casca, I have mov'd already Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans, To undergo, with me, an enterprize
Of honourable-dangerous consequence;
Is favour'd, like the work we have in hand,
Be factious for redress-] Factious seems here to mean active. JOHNSON.
It means, I apprehend, embody a party or faction. MALONE.
Perhaps Dr. Johnson's explanation is the true one. Menenius, in Coriolanus, says: "I have been always factionary on the part of your general;" and the speaker, who is describing himself, would scarce have employed the word in its common and unfavourable sense. STEEVENS.
Is favour'd, like the work-] The old edition reads;
I think we should read:
In favour's like the work we have in hand,
Favour is look, countenance, appearance. JOHNSON.
To favour is to resemble. Thus Stanyhurst, in his translation of the third Book of Virgil's Eneid, 1582:
"With the petit town gates favouring the principal old
We may read It favours, or-Is favour'd―i. e. is in appearance or countenance like, &c. See Vol. VI. p. 346, n. 6.
Perhaps fev'rous is the true reading. So, in Macbeth "Some say the earth
"Was feverous, and did shake." REED.