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"I am settled, and bent up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat."
We have, apparently, the word Genius used for the spirit or mind in what the Duke says, in The Comedy of Errors, v. 1, of the two Antipholuses and the two Dromios:
"One of these men is genius to the other;
And so of these: which is the natural man,
155. And the state of a man. -This is the original reading, in which the prosodical irregularity is nothing more than what frequently occurs. The common reading omits the article. There is certainly nothing gained in vividness of expression by so turning the concrete into the abstract. We have elsewhere, indeed, in Macbeth, i. 3, 'My single state of man; and Falstaff, in the Second Part of Henry IV., iv. 4, speaks of "This little kingdom, man;" but in neither of these cases is the reference in the word man to an individual, as here.-The Exit Lucius attached to the first line of this speech is modern.
156. Your brother Cassius.- Cassius had married Junia, the sister of Brutus.
158. No, Sir, there are moc with him.-Moe, not more, is the word here and in other passages, not only in the First, but in all the Four Folios. It was probably the common form in the popular speech throughout the seventeenth century, as it still is in Scotland in the dialectic meh' (pronounced exactly as the English may). No confusion or ambiguity is produced in this case by the retention of the old word, of continual occurrence both in Chaucer and Spenser, such as makes it advisable to convert the then, which the original text of the Plays gives us after the comparative, into our modern than. In some cases, besides, the moe is absolutely required by the verse ; as in Balthazar's Song in Much Ado About Nothing (ii. 3):
"Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Or dumps so dull and heavy;
Since summer first was leavy."
160. Pluckt about their ears. Pulled down about their ears.
160. By any mark of favour.-That is, of feature or countenance. Vid. 54.
161. When evils are most free!—When evil things have most freedom.
161. To mask thy monstrous visage ?-The only prosodical irregularity in this line is the common one of the one supernumerary short syllable (the age of visage). The two unaccented syllables which follow the fifth accented one have no effect.
161. Hide it in smiles.-This is the old reading, which Mr Knight has restored. He states that all the modern editions have in it.
161. For, if thou path, thy native semblance on.— Coleridge has declared himself convinced that we should here read "if thou put thy native semblance on;" and Mr Knight is inclined to agree with him, seeing that putte might be easily mistaken for pathe. If path be the word, the meaning must be, If thou go forth. Path is employed as a verb by Drayton, but not exactly in this sense: he speaks of pathing a passage, and pathing a way, that is, making or smoothing a passage or way. There is no comma or other point after path in the old copies.
161. To hide thee from prevention.-To prevent (prævenire) is to come before, and so is equivalent in effect with to hinder, which is literally to make behind. I make that behind me which I get before.-The heading that follows is in the old copies;-"Enter the Conspirators, Cassius, Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus, and Trebonius."
162. We are too bold upon your rest.—We intrude too boldly or unceremoniously upon your rest.
168. This, Casca; this, Cinna; etc.-I print this speech continuously, as it stands in the original edition, and as Mr Knight has also given it. It might perhaps be possible, by certain violent processes, to reduce it to the rude semblance of a line of verse, or to break it up, as has also been attempted, into something like a pair of hemistichs; but it is far better to regard it as never having been intended for verse at all, like many other brief utterances of the same level kind interspersed in this and all the other Plays.
173. And yon grey lines.-This is the reading of all the Folios. Why does Mr Collier print yond'?
174. Which is a great way, etc.-The commentators, who flood us with their explanations of many easier passages, have not a word to say upon this. Casca means that the point of sunrise is as yet far to the south (of east), weighing (that is, taking into account, or on account of) the unadvanced period of the year. But is there not some allusion, which the look and tone of the speaker might express more clearly than his words, to the great act about to be performed in the Capitol, and the change, as of a new day, that was expected to follow it? Otherwise, it is difficult to understand the elaborate emphasis of the whole speech,-more especially the closing words"and the high east
Stands, as the Capitol, directly here."
175. Give me your hands all over.-That is, all included. The idiom is still common.
177. If not the face of men.—The commentators are all alive here, one proposing to read fate of men, another faith of men, another faiths (as nearer in sound to face). It is difficult to see much difficulty in the old reading, understood as meaning the looks of men. It is prefer
able, at any rate, to anything which it has been proposed to substitute.
177. The time's abuse. This, apparently, must be taken to mean the prevalence of abuse generally, all the abuses of the time.
177. Hence to his idle bed.-That is, bed of idleness, or in which he may lie doing nothing (not vacant or unoccupied bed, as some would understand it).
177. So let high-sighted tyranny.-High-looking, proud. -Some modern editions have rage instead of range, probably by an accidental misprint.
177. Till each man drop by lottery.—That is, probably, as if by chance, without any visible cause why he in particular should be struck down or taken off. It has been suggested, however, that there may be an allusion to the process of decimation.
177. Than secret Romans.-Romans bound to secrecy. 177. And will not palter?-To palter (perhaps ety-. mologically connected with falter) means to shuffle, to equivocate, to act or speak unsteadily or dubiously with the intention to deceive. It is best explained by the well-known passage in Macbeth (v. 7) :—
"And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
177. Or we will fall for it ?—Will die for it.
177. Men cautelous.-Cautelous is given to cautels, full of cautels. A cautel, from the Roman law-term cautēla (a caution, or security), is mostly used in a discreditable sense by our old English writers. The caution has passed into cunning in their acceptation of the word ;-it was natural that caution should be popularly so estimated ;and by cautels they commonly mean craftinesses, deceits. Thus we have in Hamlet (i. 3);—
"And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of his will."
And in the passage before us cautelous is cautious and wary at least to the point of cowardice, if not to that of insidiousness and trickery.
177. Old feeble carrions.-Carrions, properly masses of dead and putrefying flesh, is a favourite term of contempt with Shakespeare.
177. Such suffering souls, etc.-See the note on that gentleness as in 44. In the present speech we have both the old and the new phraseology;—such . . . that in one line, and such . . . as in the next.-Suffering souls are patient, all-enduring souls.
177. The even virtue of our enterprise.—The even virtue is the firm and steady virtue. The our is emphatic.
177. Nor the insuppressive mettle.-The keenness and ardour incapable of being suppressed (however illegitimate such a form with that sense may be thought to be). So we have in As You Like It (iii. 2) "The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she.” And even Milton has (Lycidas, 176)." And hears the unexpressive nuptial song." -For mettle see 102.
177. To think that.-The easiest supplement, or filling up of the ellipsis, is, so as to think.
177. Is guilty of a several bastardy.—The etymology of the word bastard is uncertain. Shakespeare probably took his notion of what it radically expressed from the convertible phrase base-born. Thus, in Lear, i. 2, Edmund soliloquizes," Why bastard? Wherefore base?" By a several bastardy here is meant a special or distinct act of baseness, or of treason against ancestry and honourable birth. For several see 444.
178. But what of Cicero ? ete.-Both the prosody and the sense direct us to lay the emphasis on him.
178. He will stand very strong. He will take part with us decidedly and warmly.