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If these be notives weak, break off betimes,
5 Till each man drop by lottery.] Perhaps the poet alluded to the custom of deciination, i. e. the selection by lot of every tenth soldier, in a general mutiny, for punishment. He speaks of this in Coriolanus :
“ By decimation, and a tithed death,
“ Take thou thy fate.” Steevens. 6 And will not palter?] And will not fly from his engagements. Cole, in his Dictionary, 1679, renders to palter, by tergiversor. In Macbeth it signifies, as Dr. Johnson has observed, to shuffle with ambiguous expressions: and, indeed, here also it may mean to shuffle ; for he whose actions do not correspond with his promises is properly called a shuffler. Malone. 7 Swear priests, &c.] This is imitated by Otway: “When you would bind me, is there need of oaths ?" &c.
Venice Preserved. Fohnson. cautelous. ] Is here cautious, sometimes insidious. So, in Woman is a Weathercock, 1612: “ Yet warn you, be'as cautelous not to wound my integrity." Again, in Drayton's Miseries of Queen Margaret :
“ Witty, well-spoken, cautelous, though young.” Again, in the second of these two senses in the romance of Kynge Appolyn of Thyre, 1610 : " - a fallacious policy and cautelous wyle."
Again, in Holinshed, p. 945:"_ the emperor's councell thought by a cautell to have brought the king in mind to sue for a licence from the pope.” Steevens.
Bullokar, in his English Expositor, 1616, explains cautelous thus : “Warie, circumspect ;” in which sense it is certainly used here.
Malone VOL. XIV.
Nor the insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
Cas. But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?
Casca. Let us not leave him out.
No, by no means.
Bru. O, name him not; let us not break with him; For he will never follow That other men begin. Cas.
Then leave him out.
Cas. Decius, well urg'd :-I think, it is not meet,
Bru. Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius.
9 The even virtue of our enterprize,] The calm, equable, temperate spirit that actuates us. Malone. Thus in Mr. Pope's Eloisa to Abelard:
“ Desires compos'd, affections ever even,—.” Steevens.
-opinion, ] i. e. character. So, in King Henry IV, P, I:
- Thou hast redeein'd thy lost opinion," The quotation is Mr. Reed's. See Vol. VIII, p. 328, n. 5. Steevens. 2 — and envy afterwards :] Enoy is here, as almost always in Shakspeare's plays, malice. See Vol. XI, p. 240, n. 7; and p. 273, 1.6. Malone.
Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
Yet I do fear him:6
Bru. Alas, good Cassius, do not think of him :
30, that we then could come by Cæsar's spirit, &c.] Lord Sterline has the same thought: Brutus remonstrating against the taking off Antony, says:
« Ah! ah! we must but too much murder see,
“That without doing evil cannot do good ;
“ Without the effusion of one drop of blood ?' Malonę. - as a dish fit for the gods, &c.]
“ Funus erat." Stat. Theb. VII, 1. 696. Steevens. 9 Not hew him as a carcase fit for hounds : ] Our author had probably the following passage in the old translation of Plutarch in his thoughts: “ – Cæsar turned himselfe no where but he was stricken at by some, and still had naked swords in his face, and was hacked and mangled among them as a wild beast taken of hunters.” Malone.
6 Yet I do fear him :) For the sake of metre I have supplied the auxiliary verb. So, in Macbeth:
There is none but him
Take thought,] That is, turn melancholy. Johnsona
And that were much he should; for he is given
Treb. There is no fear in him ; let him not die;
Bru. Peace, count the clock.
The clock hath stricken three.
But it is doubtful yet,
So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ What shall we do, Enobarbus?
“ Think and die.” Again, in Holinshed, p. 833 : “. now they are without service, which caused them to take thought, insomuch that some died by the way," &c. Steevens.
The precise meaning of take thought may be learned from the following passage in St. Matthew, where the verb pepopeyaw which sig. nifies to anticipate, or forbode evil, is so rendered : “ Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."-Cassius not only refers to, but thus explains, the phrase in question, when, in answer to the assertion of Brutus concerning Antony, Act III:
- I know that we shall have him well to friend." he replies:
" I wish we may: but yet I have a mind
“ Falls shrewdly to the purpose." To take thought then, in this instance, is not to turn melancholy, whatever think may be in Antony and Cleopatra. Henley. See Vol. III, p. 226, n. 7. Malone.
- company. ] Company is here used in a disreputable sense. See a note on the word companion, Act IV. Henley
9 Whe'r Cæsar &c.] Whe'r is the ancient abbreviation of whether, which likewise is sometimes written-where. Thus in Turberville's translation of Ovid's Epistle from Penelope to Ulysses :
“ But Sparta cannot make account
" Where thou do live or die.” Steevens. 1 Quite from the main opinion he held once
Of fantasy, of dreams, and ceremonies : ) Main opinion, is nothing more than leading, fixed, predominant opinion. Johnson.
Main opinion, according to Johnson's explanation is sense ; but mean opinion would be a mare natural expression, and is, I believe, what Shakspeare wrote. M. Mason
The words main opinion occur again in Troilus and Cressida, where (as here) they signify zeneral estimation:
It may be, these apparent prodigies,
Dec. Never fear that: If he be so resolv’d,
• Why then we should our main opinion crush
os In taint of our best man." There is no ground therefore for suspecting any corruption in the
Malone Fantasy was in our author's time commonly used for imagination, and is so explained in Cawdry's Alphabetical Table of hard Words, 8vo. 1604 It signified both the naginative power, and the thing imagined. It is used in the former sense by Shakspeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor :
“ Raise up the organs of her fantasy." In the latter, in the present play:
“ Thou hast no figures, nor no fantasies." Ceremonies means omens or signs deduced from sacrifices, or other ceremonial rites. So, afterwards:
“ Cæsar, I never stood on ceremonies,
“ Yet now they fright me." Malone. 2 That unicorns may be betray'd with trees,
And bears with glasses, elephants with holes.] Unicorns are said to have been taken by one who, running behind a tree, eluded the violent push the animal was making at him, so that his horn spent its force on the trunk, and stuck fast, detaining the beast till he was despatched by the hunter. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. II, ch. v:
“ Like as a lyon whose imperiall powre
“ But to the mighty victor yields a bounteous feast." Again, in Bussy D' Ambois, 1607:
" An angry unicorne in his full career
Charge with too swift a foot a jeweller
“ Nail him with his rich antler to the earth.” Bears are reported to have been surprised by means of a mirror, which they would gaze on, affording their pursuers an opportunity of