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O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
2 CIT. O noble Cæsar!
that the blood of Cæsar flew upon the statue, and trickled down it. JOHNSON.
Shakspeare took these words from Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch: " -against the very base whereon Pompey's image stood, which ran all a gore of blood, till he was slain." STEEVENS.
treason flourish'd-] i. e. flourished the sword. So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"And flourishes his blade in spite of me." STEEVens. The dint of pity:] is the impression of pity.
The word is in common use among our ancient writers. So, in Preston's Cambyses:
"Your grace therein may hap receive, with other for your parte,
"The dent of death," &c.
"He shall dye by dent of sword, or else by choking rope." STEEVENS.
Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, with traitors.] To mar seems to have anciently signified to lacerate. So, in Solyman and Perseda, a tragedy, 1599, Basilisco, feeling the end of his dagger, says:
"This point will mar her skin." MALONE. To mar sometimes signified to deface, as in Othello: "Nor mar that whiter skin of hers than snow.' and sometimes to destroy, as in Timon of Athens: "And mar men's spurring."
Ancient alliteration always produces mar as the opposite of make. STEEvens.
3 CIT. O woful day!
4 CIT. O traitors, villains!
1 CIT. O most bloody sight!
2 CIT. We will be revenged: revenge; about,seek,-burn,-fire,-kill,-slay!-let not a traitor
ANT. Stay, countrymen.
1 CIT. Peace there:-Hear the noble Antony. 2 CIT. We'll hear him, we'll follow him, we'll die with him.
ANT. Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They, that have done this deed, are honourable; What private griefs they have, alas, I know not, That made them do it; they are wise and honour
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
• For I have neither wit,] [Old copy-writ.] So, in King Henry VI. P. II :
"Now, my good lord, let's see the devil's writ." i. e. writing. Again, in Hamlet: "the law of writ and the liberty."-The editor of the second folio, who altered whatever he did not understand, substituted wit for writ. Wit in our author's time had not its present signification, but meant understanding. Would Shakspeare make Antony declare himself void of common intelligence? MALone.
The first folio (and, I believe, through a mistake of the press,) has-writ, which in the second folio was properly changed into wit. Dr. Johnson, however, supposes that by writ was meant a "penned and premeditated oration."
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
And bid them speak for me: But were I Brutus,
1 CIT. We'll burn the house of Brutus.
3 CIT. Away then, come, seek the conspirators. ANT. Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me speak.
CIT. Peace, ho! Hear Antony, most noble Antony.
ANT. Why, friends, you go to do you know not what:
But the artful speaker, on this sudden call for his exertions, was surely designed, with affected modesty, to represent himself as one who had neither wit, (i. e. strength of understanding) persuasive language, weight of character, graceful action, harmony of voice, &c. (the usual requisites of an orator) to influence the minds of the people. Was it necessary, therefore, that, on an occasion so precipitate, he should have urged that he had brought no written speech in his pocket? since every person who heard him must have been aware that the interval between the death of Cæsar, and the time present, would have been inadequate to such a composition, which indeed could not have been produced at all, unless, like the indictment of Lord Hastings in King Richard III. it had been got ready through a premonition of the event that would require it.
What is styled the devil's writ in King Henry VI. P. II. is the deposition of the dæmon, written down before witnesses on the stage. I therefore continue to read with the second folio, being unambitious of reviving the blunders of the first. STEEVENS.
Wherein hath Cæsar thus deserv'd your loves?
CIT. Most true;-the will;-let's stay, and hear the will.
ANT. Here is the will, and under Cæsar's seal. To every Roman citizen he gives,
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas." 2 CIT. Most noble Cæsar!-we'll revenge his death.
3 CIT. O royal Cæsar!
ANT. Hear me with patience.
ANT. Moreover, he hath left you all his walks, His private arbours, and new-planted orchards, On this side Tyber; he hath left them you,
7 seventy-five drachmas.] A drachma was a Greek coin, the same as the Roman denier, of the value of four sesterces, 7d. ob. STEEVENS.
On this side Tyber;] The scene is here in the Forum near the Capitol, and in the most frequented part of the city; but Cæsar's gardens were very remote from that quarter:
"Trans Tiberim longe cubat is, prope Cæsaris hortos." says Horace: and both the Naumachia and gardens of Cæsar were separated from the main city by the river; and lay out wide, on a line with Mount Janiculum. Our author therefore certainly wrote:
On that side Tyber;
and Plutarch, whom Shakspeare very diligently studied, in The Life of Marcus Brutus, speaking of Caesar's will, expressly says, That he left to the publick his gardens, and walks, beyond the Tyber. THEOBALD.
This emendation has been adopted by the subsequent editors; but hear the old translation, where Shakspeare's study lay: "He bequeathed unto every citizen of Rome seventy-five drachmas a man, and he left his gardens and arbours unto the people, which he had on this side of the river Tiber." FARMER.
And to your heirs for ever; common pleasures,
1 CIT. Never, never:-Come, away, away: We'll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors' houses.9
2 CIT. Go, fetch fire.
3 CIT. Pluck down benches.
4 CIT. Pluck down forms, windows, any thing. [Exeunt Citizens, with the Body.
ANT. Now let it work: Mischief, thou art afoot, Take thou what course thou wilt!-How now, fellow?
Enter a Servant.
SERV. Sir, Octavius is already come to Rome. ANT. Where is he?
SERV. He and Lepidus are at Cæsar's house. ANT. And thither will I straight to visit him: He comes upon a wish. Fortune is merry, And in this mood will give us any thing.
SERV. I heard him say, Brutus and Cassius Are rid like madmen through the gates of Rome.
-fire the traitors' houses.] Thus the old copy. The more modern editors read-fire all the traitor's houses; but fire was then pronounced, as it was sometimes written, fier. So, in Humors Ordinary, a collection of Epigrams:
"Oh rare compound, a dying horse to choke,
"Of English fier and of Indian smoke!" STEEvens.