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CESAR enters the Capitol, the rest following.
Pop, I wish your enterprize to-day may thrive. CAS. What enterprize, Popilius?
Fare you well. [Advances to Cæsar.
BRU. What said Popilius Lena? CAS. He wish'd to-day our enterprize might thrive.
I fear, our purpose is discovered.
BRU. Look how he makes to Cæsar: Mark him.1
CAS. Casca, be sudden, for we fear prevention.Brutus, what shall be done? If this be known, Cassius or Cæsar never shall turn back,2
1 — Mark him.] The metre being here imperfect, I think, we should be at liberty to read:-Mark him well. So, in the paper read by Artemidorus, p. 323:-" Mark well Metellus Cimber." STEEVENS.
2 Cassius or Cæsar never shall turn back,] I believe Shakspeare wrote:
Cassius on Cæsar never shall turn back.
The next line strongly supports this conjecture. If the conspiracy was discovered, and the assassination of Cæsar rendered impracticable by "prevention," which is the case supposed, Cassius could have no hope of being able to prevent Cæsar from "turning back" (allowing "turn back" to be used for return back;) and in all events this conspirator's "slaying himself" could not produce that effect.
Cassius had originally come with a design to assassinate Cæsar, or die in the attempt, and therefore there could be no question now concerning one or the other of them falling. The question now stated is, if the plot was discovered, and their scheme could not be effected, how each conspirator should act; and Cassius declares, that, if this should prove the case, he will not endeavour
For I will slay myself.
Cassius, be constant : Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes; For, look, he smiles, and Cæsar doth not change. CAS. Trebonius knows his time; for look you, Brutus,
He draws mark Antony out of the way.
[Exeunt ANTONY and TREBONIUS. CESAR and the Senators take their Seats.
to save himself by flight from the Dictator and his partizans, but instantly put an end to his own life.
The passage in Plutarch's Life of Brutus, which Shakspeare appears to have had in his thoughts, adds such strength to this emendation, that if it had been proposed by any former editor, I should have given it a place in the text: "Popilius Læna, that had talked before with Brutus and Cassius, and had prayed the gods they might bring this enterprize to pass, went unto Cæsar, and kept him a long time with a talke. Wherefore the conspirators conjecturing by that he had tolde them a little before, that his talke was none other but the verie discoverie of their conspiracie, they were affrayed euerie man of them, and one looking in another's face, it was easie to see that they were all of a minde, that it was no tarrying for them till they were appre hended, but rather that they should kill themselves with their own handes. And when Cassius and certain others clapped their handes on their swordes under their gownes to draw them, Brutus, marking the countenance and gesture of Læna, &c. with a pleasant countenance encouraged Cassius, &c."
They clapped their hands on their daggers undoubtedly to be ready to kill themselves, if they were discovered. Shakspeare was induced to give this sentiment to Cassius, as being exactly agreeable to his character, and to that spirit which has appeared in a former scene:
"I know where I will wear this dagger then;
"Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius." MALONE. The disjunctive is right, and the sense apparent. Cassius says, If our purpose is discovered, either Cæsar or I shall never return alive: for, if we cannot kill him, I will certainly slay myself. The conspirators were numerous and resolute, and had they been betrayed, the confusion that must have arisen might have afforded desperate men an opportunity to despatch the tyrant, RITSON.
DEC. Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him go, And presently prefer his suit to Cæsar.
BRU. He is address'd:3 press near, and second him.
CIN. Casca, you are the first that rears your hand.+
CES. Are we all ready? what is now amiss, That Cæsar and his senate, must redress? 5
MET. Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Cæsar,
'He is address'd:] i. e. he is ready. See Vol. XII. p. 380, STEEVENS.
you are the first that rears your hand.] This, I think, is not English. The first folio has reares, which is not much better. To reduce the passage to the rules of grammar, we should read— You are the first that rears his hand. TYRWHITT.
According to the rules of grammar Shakspeare certainly should have written his hand; but he is often thus inaccurate. So, in the last Act of this play. Cassius says of himselfCassius is aweary of the world :— all his faults observ'd,
"Set in a note-book, learn'd and conn'd by rote,
"To cast into my teeth."
There in strict propriety our poet certainly should have writinto his teeth." MALONE.
As this and similar offences against grammar, might have originated only from the ignorance of the players or their printers, I cannot concur in representing such mistakes as the positive inaccuracies of Shakspeare. According to this mode of reasoning, the false spellings of the first folio, as often as they are exampled by corresponding false spellings in the same book, may also be charged upon our author. STEEVENS.
5 Cin. Casca, you are the first that rears your hand. Cæs. Are we all ready? What is now amiss, That Cæsar, and his senate, must redress?] Are we all ready-seem to belong more properly to Cinna's speech, than to Cæsar's. RITSON.
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat
CES. I must prevent thee, Cimber. These couchings, and these lowly courtesies, Might fire the blood of ordinary men; And turn pre-ordinance, and first decree, Into the law of children. Be not fond,
And turn pre-ordinance,] Pre-ordinance, for ordinance already established. WARBURTon.
"Into the law of children,] [Old copy-lane.] I do not well 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
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
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:
66 - in all line of order."
In an ancient bl. 1. ballad entitled, Houshold 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
To think that Cæsar bears such rebel blood,
Low-crooked curt'sies, and base spaniel fawning. Thy brother by decree is banished;
If thou dost bend, and pray, and fawn for him, I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Cæsar doth not wrong; nor without cause Will he be satisfied."
therefore to adopt Dr. Johnson's emendation. The words preordinance and decree strongly support it. MALOne.
8 Know, Cæsar doth not wrong; nor without cause
Will he be satisfied.] Ben Jonson quotes this line unfaithfully 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:
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, it may be very well understood to mean only harm or hurt, what the law calls damnum sine injuria; 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.