Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lions with toils, and men with flatterers :
But, when I tell him, he hates flatterers,
He

says, he does; being then most flattered.
Let me work :3
For I can give his humour the true bent;
And I will bring him to the Capitol.

Cas. Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him.
Bru. By the eighth hour: Is that the uttermost?
Cin. Be that the uttermost, and fail not then.

Met. Caius Ligarius doth bear Cæsar hard,
Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey;
I wonder, none of you have thought of him.

Bru. Now, good Metellus, go along by him :5 He loves me well, and I have given him reasons; Send him but hither, and I 'll fashion him. Cas. The morning comes upon us: We'll leave you,

Brutus:
And, friends, disperse yourselves : but all remember
What you have said, and show yourselves true Romans.

Bru. Good gentleinen, look fresh and merrily;
Let not our looks put on our purposes ;
But bear it as our Roman actors do,
With untir'd spirits, and formal constancy:

4

taking the surer aim. This circumstance, I think, is mentioned by Claudian. Elephants were seduced into pitfalls, lightly covered with hurdles and turf, on which a proper bait to tempt them, was exposed. See Pliny's Natural History, B. VIII. Steevens.

3 Let me work:] These words, as they stand, being quite unme:rical, I suppose our author to have originally written:

Let me to work. i.e. go to work. Steevens.

Bear Cæsar hard,] Thus the old copy, but Messieurs Rowe, Pope, and Sir Thomas Hanmer, on the authority of the second and latter folios, read-hatred, though the same expression appears again in the first scene of the following act: " - I do beseech you, if you bear me hard;" and has already occurred in a former one:

« Cæsar doth bear me hard but he loves Brutus.” Steevens. Hatred was substituted for hard by the ignorant editor of the second folio, the great corrupter of Shakspeare's text. Malone.

5 by him:] That is, by his house. Make that your way home. Mr. Pope substituted to for by, and all the subsequent editors have adopted this unnecessary change Malone.

6 Let not our looks --] Let not our faces put on, that is, wear or show our designs, Johnson.

And so, good-morrow to you every one.

[Exeunt all but BRU. Boy! Lucius :-Fast asleep? It is no matter ; Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber: Thou hast no figures, nor no fantasies, Which busy care draws in the brains of men; Therefore thou sleep’st so sound.

Enter PORTIA. Por.

Brutus, my lord! Bru. Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now? It is not for your health, thus to commit Your weak condition to the raw-cold morning.

Por. Nor for yours neither. You have ungently, Brutus, Stole from my bed: And yesternight, at supper, You suddenly arose, and walk'd about, Musing, and sighing, with your arms across : And when I ask'd you what the matter was, You star'd upon me with ungentle looks : I urg'd you further; then you scratch'd your head, And too impatiently stamp'd with your foot : Yet I insisted, yet you answer'd not ; But, with an angry wafture of your hand, Gave sign for me to leave you : So I did; Fearing to strengthen that impatience, Which seem'd too much enkindled; and, withal, Hoping it was but an effect of humour, Which sometime hath his hour with every man. It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep; And, could it work so much upon your shape, As it hath much prevail'd on your condition,s I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord, Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.

Bru. I am not well in health, and that is all.

Por. Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health, He would embrace the means to come by it.

Bru. Why, so I do:-Good Portia, go to bed.

Por. Is Brutus sick ? and is it physical. To walk unbraced, and suck up the humours

7 Thou hast no figures, &c.] Figures occurs in the same sense in The First Part of King Henry IV, Act I, sc. iii:

“ He apprehends a world of figures.Henley,

on your condition,] On your temper; the disposition of your mind. See Vol. IX, p. 374, n. 9. Malone,

8

Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick;
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed,
To dare the vile contagion of the night?
And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air
To add unto his sickness ? No, my Brutus ;
You have some sick offence within

your

mind,
Which, by the right and virtue of my place,
I ought to know of: And, upon any knees,
I charm you, by my once commended beauty,
By all your vows of love, and that great vow
Which did incorporate and make us one,
That you unfold to me, yourself, your half,
Why you are heavy; and what men to-night
Have had resort to you: for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
Even from darkness.
Bru.

Kneel not, gentle Portia.
Por. I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus:
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted, I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself,
But, as it were, in sort, or limitation ;
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,2

9 I charm you,] Thus the old copy. Mr. Pope and Sir Thomas Hanmer read-charge, but unnecessarily. So, in Cymbeline:

o'tis your graces
“ That from my mutest conscience to my tongue
Charms this report out.

Steevens. i To keep with you at meals, &c ] “I being, O Brutus, (sayed she) the daughier of Cato, was married vnto thee, not to be thy beddefellowe and companion in bedde and at borde onelie, like a harlot; but to be partaker also with thee, of thy good and euill fortune. Nowe for thy selfe, I can finde no cause of faulte in thee touchinge our matche: but for my parte, how may I showe my duetie towards thee, and how muche I woulde doe for thy sake, if I can not con. stantlie beare a secrete mischaunce or griefe with thee, which requireth secrecy and fidelitie ? I confesse, that a woman's wit com. monly is too weake to keep a secret safely: but yet, Brutus, good education, and the companie of vertuous men, haue some power to reformne the defect of nature. And for my selfe, I have this benefit morecuer: that I am the daughter of Cato, and wife of Brutus. This notwithstanding, I did not trust to any of these things before : vntil that now I have found by experience, that no paine nor grife whatsoeuer can ouercome me. With those wordes she showed him her wounde on her thigh, and tolde him what she had done to proue her selfe.” Sir Thomas North’s Translation of Plutarch. Steevens.

And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife.

Bru. You are my true and honourable wife;
As dear to me, as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart.4

Por. If this were true, then should I know this secret. I grant, I am a woman ;5 but, withal,

2

Here also we find our author and Lord Sterline walking over the same ground:

I was not, Brutus, match'd with thee, to be

A partner only of thy board and bed ;
“ Each servile whore in those might equal me,

“ That did herself to nought but pleasure wed.
“ No;-Portia spous'd thee with a mind t’abide

“ Thy fellow in all fortunes, good or ill; “ With chains of mutual love together tyd, " As those that have two breasts, one heart, two souls,

one will.” Julius Cæsar, 1607. Malone.

comfort your bed,] “is but an odd phrase, and gives as odd an idea,” says Mr. Theobald He therefore substitures, consort. But this good old word, however disused through modern refine. ment, was not so discarded by Shakspeare. Henry VIII, as we read in Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, in commendation of Queen Katharine, in publick said: “ She hathe beene to me a true obedient wife, and as comfortable as I could wish.", Upton.

In the book of entries at Stationers' Hall, I meet with the following, 1598: “ A Conversation between a careful Wyfe and her comfort. able Husband.Steevens.

In our marriage ceremony, the husband promises to comfort his wife; and Barrett's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, says, that to comfort is,“ to recreate, to solace, to make pastime. ' Collins.

3 — in the suburbs --] Perhaps here is an allusion to the place in which the harlots of Shakspeare's age resided. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Monsieur Thomas :

“ Get a new mistress,
“ Some suburb saint, that sixpence, and some oaths,

“ Will draw to parley.” Steevens. 4 As dear to me, &c.] These glowing words have been adopted by Mr. Gray in his celebrated Ode : “ Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart

Steevens. $ I grant, I am a woman; &c.] So, Lord Sterline :

" And though our sex too talkative be deem'd,

“ As those whose tongues import our greatest pow’rs, « For secrets still bad treasurers esteem d,

Of others' greedy, prodigal of ours;

A woman that lord Brutus took to wife :
I grant, I am a woman; but, withal,
A woman well-reputed; Cato's daughter..
Think you, I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father'd, and so husbanded?
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose them:
I have made strong proof of my constancy,
Giving myself a voluntary wound
Here, in the thigh : Can I bear that with patience,
And not my husband's secrets ?
Bru.

O ye gods,
Render me worthy of this noble wife! [Knocking withini.
Hark, hark! one knocks: Portia, go in a while;
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All my engagements I will construe to thee,
All the charactery? of my sad brows:-
Leave me with haste.

[Exit Por. Enter Lucius and LIGARIUS.

Lucius, who's that, knocks ?8 Luc. Here is a sick man, that would speak with you.

Bru. Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of.Boy, stand aside.-Caius Ligarius! how?

Lig. Vouchsase good morrow from a feeble tongue. Bru. O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,

“ Good education may reformn defects,

“ And I this vantage have to a vertuous life,
" Which others' minds do want and mine respects,

I'm Gato's daughter, and I'm Brutus' wife.Malone. 6 A woman well-reputed, Cato's daughter.] By the expression wellreputed, she refers to the estimation in which she was held, as being the wife of Brutus; whilst the addition of Cato's daughter, implies that she might be expected to inher it the patriotic virtues of her father. It is with propriety therefore, that she immediately asks:

“ Think you, I ain no stronger than my sex,

“ Being so father'd, and so husbande:1 ?" Henley. 7 All the charactery - ] i e. all that is characterd on, &c. The word has already occurred in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Steevens. See Vol. III, p. 151, n. 3. Malone.

who's that, knocks?] i. e. who is that, who knocks? Our poet always prefers the familiar language of conversation to grammatical nicety. Four of his editors, however, have endeavoured to destroy this peculiarity, by reading—who's there that knocks ? and a fifth has, who's that, that knocks? Malone.

8

« PreviousContinue »