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Be well aveng'd; or till another Cæsar
Bru. Cæsar, thou can’st not die by traitors' hands,
So I hope ;
Bru. O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain, Young man, thou could'st not die more honourable.
Cas. A peevish schoolboy, worthless of such honour, Join'd with a masker and a reveller.
Ant. Old Cassius still!
Come, Antony; away-
[Exeunt Oct. Ant. and their Army. Cas. Why now, blow, wind; swell, billow ; and swim,
Beaumont and Fletcher have fallen into a similar mistake, in their Noble Gentleman:
“ So Cæsar fell, when in the Capitol,
till another Cæsar Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors.] A similar idea has already occurred in King John:
“Or add a royal number to the dead,
“ With slaughter coupled to the name of kings.” Steevens. 9 Defiance, traitors, hurl we ~] Whence perhaps Milton, Paradise Lost, B. I, v. 669:
“ Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heaven.” Hurl is peculiarly expressive. The challenger in judicial combats was said to hurl down his gage, when he threw his glove down as a pledge that he would make good his charge against his adversary. So, in King Richard II:
" And interchangeably hurl down my gage
- when you have stomachs.] So, in Chapman's version of the ninth Iliad: Fight when his stomach serves him best, or when”' &c.
Cas. Messala, -
What says my general ?
2 Messala, &c.] Almost every circumstance in this speech is taken from Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch:
“ But touching Cassius, Messala reporteth that he supped by himselfe in his tent, with a few of his friendes, and that all supper tyme he looked very sadly, and was full of thoughts, although it was against his nature: and that after supper he tooke him by the hande, and holding him fast (in token of kindnes as his manner was) told him in Greeke, Messala, 1 protest vnto thee, and make the my witnes, that I am compelled against my minde and will (as Pompey the Great was) to jeopard the libertie of our contry, to the hazard of a battel. And yet we must be liuely, and of good corage, considering our good fortune, whom we should wronge too muche to mistrust lier, although we follow euill counsell. Messala writeth, that Cassius hauing spoken these last wordes vnto him, he bid him farewell, and willed him to come to supper to hiin the next night following, bicause it was his birth-day." Steevens.
our former ensign - ] Thus the old copy, and, I suppose, rightly. Former is foremost. Shakspeare sometimes uses the comparative instead of the positive and superlative. See King Lear, Act IV, sc. iii. Either word has the same origin; nor do I perceive why formner should be less applicable to place than time. Stcevens.
Former is right; and the meaning—our fore ensign. So, in Adlyngton's Apuleius, 1596 : “ First hee instruc-ed me to sit at the table vpon my taile, and howe I should leape and daunce, holding up my former feete.”
Again, in Harrison's Description of Britaine : “ It [i.e. brawn] is made commonly of the fore part of a tame bore set uppe for the purpose by the space of an whole year or two. Afterwarde he is killed, --and then of his former partes is our brawne made." Ritson.
As we were sickly prey;t their shadows seem
Mes. Believe not so.
I but believe it partly ;
Bru. Even so, Lucilius.
Now, most noble Brutas,
Bru. Even by the rule of that philosophy,
as we were sickly prey;] So, in King John:
“ As doth a raven on a sick-fall’n beast, Steevens. 5 The very last time we shall speak together :
What are you then determined to do?] i.e. I am resolved in such a case to kill myself. What are you determined of? Warburton.
of that philosophy,] There is an apparent contradiction between the sentiments contained in this and the following speech whichi Shakspeare has put into the mouth of Brutus. In this, Brutus declares his resolution to wait patiently for the determinations of Providence; and in the next, he intimates, that though he should survive the battle, he would never submit to be led in chains to Rome. This sentence in Sir Thomas North's translation, is perplexed, and might be easily misunderstood. Shakspeare, in the first speech, makes that to be the present opinion of Brutus, which in Plutarch, is mentioned only as one he formerly entertained, though he now condemned it.
So, in Sir Thomas North:-" There Cassius beganne to speake first, and sayd: the gods graunt vs, O Brutus, that this day we may winne the field, and euer after to live all the rest of our life quietly, one with another. But sith the gods haue so ordeyned it, that the greatest & chiefest things amongest men are most vncertayne, and that if the battell fall out otherwise to daye then we wishe or looke for, we shall hardely meete againe, what art thou then determined to doe? to fly, or dye? Brutus aunswered him, being yet but a young man, and not ouer greatly experienced in the world: I trust (I know not how) a certeine rule of philosophie, by the which I did greatly blame and reproue Cato for killing of him selfe, as being no lawfull nor godly acte, touching the gods, nor concerning men, valiani ; not to giue place and yeld to diuine prouidence, and not constantly and paciently to take whatsoever it pleaseth him to send vs, but to drawe backe, VOL. XIV.
By which I did blame Cato for the death
Then, if we lose this battle,
and flie: but being nowe in the middest of the daunger, I am of a contrarie mind. For if it be not the will of God, that this battell fall out fortunate for vs, I will looke no more for hope, neither seeke to make any new supply for war againe, but will rid me of this miserable world, and content me with my fortune. For, I gaue vp my life for my contry in the ides of Marche, for the which I shall live in ano. ther more glorious worlde.” Steevens.
I see no contradiction in the sentiments of Brutus. He would not determine to kill himself merely for the loss of one battle ; but as he expresses himself, (p. 117) would try his fortune in a second fight. Yet he would not submit to be a captive. Blackstone.
I concur with Mr. Steevens. The words of the text by no means justify Sir W. Blackstone's solution. The question of Cassius relates solely to the event of this battle. Malone.
There is certainly an apparent contradiction between the sentiments which Brutus expresses in this, and in his subsequent speech; but there is no real inconsistency. Britus had laid it down to himself as a principle, to abide every chance and extremity of war; but when Cassius reminds him of the disgrace of being led in triumph through the streets of Rome, he acknowledges that to be a trial which he could not endure. Nothing is more natural than this. We lay down a system of conduct for ourselves, but occurrences may happen that will force us to depart from it. M. Mason.
This apparent contradiction may be easily reconciled. Brutus is at first inclined to wait patiently for better times; but is roused by the idea of being “ led in triumph,” to which he will never submit. The loss of the battle would not alone have determined him to kill him. self, if he could have lived free. Ritson.
so to prevent The time of life:] To prevent is here used in a French senseto anticipate. By time is meant the full and complete time; the period. Malore.
To prevent, I believe, has here its common signification. . Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, adduces this very instance as an example of it.
Steevens. -arming myself with patience, &c.]Dr. Warburton thinks, that in this speech something is lost; but there needed only a parenthesis to clear it. The construction is this: I am determined to act accord. ing to that philosophy which directed ine to blame the suicide of Cato; arining myself with patience, &c. Johnson.
You are contented to be led in triumph
Bru. No, Cassius, no: think not, thou noble Roman,
Cas. For ever, and for ever, farewel, Brutus!
Bru. Why then, lead on.-0, that a man might know
The same. The Field of Battle. Alarum. Enter BRUTUS and MESSALA. Bru. Ride, ride, Messala, ride, and give these bills2 Unto the legions on the other side: [Loud Alarum. Let them set on at once ; for I perceive But cold demeanour in Octavius' wing,
9 Then, if we lose this battle,] Cassius, in his last speech, having said-If we do lose this battle, the same two words might, in the present instance, be fairly understood, as they derange the metre. I would therefore read only: Cas.
Then, if we lose,
King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en : --." i.e. hath lost the battle. Steevens.
the ides of March begun;] Our author ought to have written-began. For this error, I have no doubt, he is himself answerable. Malone See p. 106, n. 3. Steevens.
give these bills – ] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: “ In the meane tyme Brutus that led the right winge, sent little billes to the collonels and captaines of private bandes, in which he wrote the worde of the battell," &c. Steevens.