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Away, away, be gone. [Exit Poet.
Enter LUCILIUS and TITINIUS.
Cas. And come yourselves, and bring Messala with you Immediately to us.
[Exeunt Luc. and Tit. Bru.
Lucius, a bowl of wine. Cas. I did not think, you could have been so angry. Bru. O Cassius, I am sick of many griefs.
Cas. Of your philosophy you make no use,
Bru. No man bears sorrow better :-Portia is dead.
Cas. How scap'd I killing, wlien I cross'd you so ?-
Impatient of my absence; And grief, that young Octavius with Mark Antony Have made themselves so strong ;-for with her death That tidings came ;-With this she fell distract, And, her attendants absent, swallow'd fire.?
This editor, of whom it was justly said by the late Bishop of Glo. cester, that “he had hung himself in chains over our poet's grave,” having boasted in his preface, that "his emendations of the text were at least equal in number to those of all the other editors and commentators put together," I some years ago had the curiosity to look into his volumes with this particular view. Onexamination I then found, that, of three hundred and twenty-five emendations of the ancient copies, which, as I then thought, he had properly received into his text, two hundred and eighty-five were suggested by some former editor or commentator, and forty only by himself. But on a second and more rigorous examination I now find, that of the emendations properly adopted, (the number of which appears to be much smaller than that above mentioned) he has a claim to not more than fifteen. The innovations and arbitrary alterations, either adopted from others, or first introduced by this editor, froin ignorance of our ancient customs and phraseology, amount to no less a number than Nine HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO!! It is highly probable that many yet have escaped my notice. Malone
6 Companion, hence ] Companion is used as a term of reproach in many of the old plays; as we say at present--fellow. So, in King Henry IV, P. II, Dol Tearsheet says to Pistol:
I scorn you, scurvy companion,” Sic. Steevens.
Cas. And died so ?8
Enter Lucius, with Wine and Tapers.
wine : In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius. Drinks.
Cas. My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge : Fill, Lucius, till the wine o’er-swell the cup; I cannot drink too much of Brutus' love. [Drinks.
Re-enter TITINIUS, with MESSALA. Bru. Come in, Titinius :- Welcome, good Messala.
7 And, her attendants absent, swallow'd fire.] This circumstance is taken from Plutarch. It is also mentioned by Vai. Maximus.
It cannot, however, be amiss ro remark, that the death of Portia may want that foundation which has hitherto entitled her to a place in poetry, as a pattern of Roman fortitude. She is reported, by Pliny, I think, to have died at Rome of a lingering illness while Brutus was abroad; but some writers seem to look on a naiural death as a derogation from a distinguished character. Steevens.
Valerius Maximus says that Portia survived Brutus, and killed herself on hearing that her husband was defeated and slain at Philippi. Plutarch's account in The Life of Brutus is as follows: “ And for Portia, Brutus' wife, Nicolaus the philosopher, and Valerius Maximus, doe wryte, that she determining to kill her selfe, (her parents and friends carefullie looking to her to kepe her from it) tooke hotte burning coles, and cast them into her mouth, and kept her mouth so close, that she choked her selfe. There was a letter of Brutus found, wrytten to his frendes, complaining of their negligence; that his wife being sicke, they would not helpe her, but suffered her to kill her selfe, choosing to dye rather than to languish in paine. Thus it appeareth that Nicolaus knew not well that time, sith the letter (at least if it were Brutus' letter) doth plainly declare the disease and love of this lady, and the manner of her death.” North's Translation.
See also Martial, L. I, ep 42, Valerius Maximus, and Nicolaus, and Plutarch, all agree in saying that she put an end to her life ; and the letter, if authentick, ascertains that she did so in the life-time of Brutus.
Our author, therefore, we see, had sufficient authority for his representation. Malone.
8 And died so ? &c.] I suppose, these three short speeches were meant to form a single verse, and originally stood as follows:
Cas. And died so?
Immortal gols? The tragick Ahs and Ohs interpolated by the players, are too frequently permitted to derange our author's measure. Steerens.
Now sit we close about this taper here,
Cas. Portia! art thou gone?
No more, I pray you.
Mes. Myself have letters of the self-same tenour.
Mes. That by proscription, and bills of outlawry,
Bru. Therein our letters do not well agrec;
Cas. Cicero one?
Ay, Cicero is dead,9
Bru. No, Messala.
That, methinks, is strange.
Mes. Then like a Roman bear the truth I tell: For certain she is dead, and by strange manner.
Bru, Why, farewel, Portia.-We must die, Messala: With meditating that she must die once,? I have the patience to endure it now.
Mes. Even so great men great losses should endure.
Cas. I have as much of this in arta as you, But yet my nature could not bear it so.
9 Ay, Cicero is dead,] For the insertion of the affirmative adverb, to complete the verse, I am answerable. Steevens.
once,] i. e. at some time or other. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor :
I pray, thee once to-night “ Give my sweet Nan this ring." See Vol. III, p. 109, n. 3. Steevens.
in art -] That is, in theory. Malone.
Bru. Well, to our work alive. What do you think
Cas. I do not think it good.
This it is 3 'Tis better, that the enemy seek us : So shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers, Doing himself offence; whilst we, lying stills Are full of rest, defence, and nimbleness.
Bru. Good reasons must, of force, give place to better.
Hear me, good brother.
3 This it is :] The overflow of the metre, and the disagreeable clash of—it is, with 'Tis at the beginning of the next line, are alınost proofs that our author only wrote, with a common ellipsis,--This:-.
Steevens. 4 There is a tide &c.] This passage is poorly imitated by Beaumont and Fletcher, in The Custom of the Country:
“ There is an hour in each man's life appointed
“ To make his happiness, if then he sieze it,” &c. Steevens. A similar sentiment is found in Chapman's Bussy D'Ambois, 1607 :
“ There is a deep nick in time's restless wheel,
Or lose our ventures.
Then, with your will, go on;
Bru. The deep of night is crept upon our talk,
No more. Good night;
O my dear brother
Every thing is well.
Good night, good brother.
Farewel, every one.
[Exeunt Cas. Tit. and Mes. Re-enter Lucius, with the Gown. Give me the gown. Where is thy instrument?
Luc. Here in the tent.
What, thou speak'st drowsily?
Enter VARRO and CLAUDIUS.
Bru. "I pray you, sirs, lie in my tent, and sleep;
Var. So please you, we will stand, and watch your plea
Bru. I will not have it so: lie down, good sirs;
5 Never come such division 'tween our souls !] So, in the mock play in Hamlet : 66 And never come mischance between us twain.” Steevens.