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SCENE IV.- The same. Another part of the same street,
before the house of Brutus.
Enter PORTIA and LUCIUS. 261. Por. I prythee, boy, run to the senate-house ;
Stay not to answer me, but get thee gone :
Luc. To know my errand, madam.
Ere I can tell thee what thou should'st do there.-
Luc. Madam, what should I do?
Por. Yes, bring me word, boy, if thy lord look well,
Luc. I hear none, madam. 267. Por. Pr’ythee, listen well;
I heard a bustling rumour, like a fray,
And the wind brings it from the Capitol. 268. Luc, Sooth, madam, I hear nothing.
Enter THE SOOTHSAYER. 269. Por. Come hither, fellow; Which way hast thou been ?
Sooth. At mine own house, good lady. 271. Por. What is 't o'clock?
Sooth. About the ninth hour, lady.
Sooth. Madam, not yet; I go to take my stand,
Sooth. That I have, lady : if it will please Cæsar
I shall beseech him to befriend himself. 277. Por. Why, knowest thou any harm's intended towards him ? 278. Sooth. None that I know will be, much that I fear may chance.
Good morrow to you.
Here the street is narrow :
[Erit. 279. Por. I must go in.--Ay me! how weak a thing The heart of woman is !
O Brutus !
Scene IV.—The heading of this scene in the original text is only “ Enter Portia and Lucius.”
261. Get thee gone.-An idiom; that is to say, a peculiar form of expression the principle of which cannot be carried out beyond the particular instance. Thus we cannot
say either Make thee gone, or He got him (or himself) gone. Phraseologies, on the contrary, which are not idiomatic are paradigmatic, or may serve as models or moulds for others to any extent. All expression is divided into these two kinds. And a corresponding division may be made of the inflected parts of speech in any language. Thus, for instance, in Greek or Latin, while certain parts of speech are indeclinable, those that are declined are either paradigmatic (that is, exemplary), such as the noun and the verb, or non-exemplary, such as the articles and the pronouns. They might be distinguished as reproductive and non-reproductive. And such an arrangement of them might be found convenient for some purposes.
263. O constancy.-Not exactly our present constancy; rather what we should now call firmness or resolution. In the same sense afterwards, in 297, Brutus says, “ Cassius, be constant.” The French have another use of constant,--I est constant (It is certain), -borrowed from the
Latin impersonal constat, and not unknown to consto. Vid. 310.
263. I have a man's mind, but a woman's might.—That is, but only a woman's might.
263. How hard it is for women to keep counsel.— Counsel in this phrase is what has been imparted in consultation. In the phrases To take counsel and To hold counsel it means simply consultation. The two words Counsel and Council have in some of their applications got a little intermingled and confused, although the Latin Consilium and Concilium, from which they are severally derived, have no connexion. A rather perplexing instance occurs in a passage towards the conclusion of Bacon's Third Essay, entitled Of Unity in Religion, which is commonly thus given in the modern editions:-“Surely in counsels concerning religion, that counsel of the apostle would be prefixed; Ira hominis non implet justitiam Dei.” But as published by Bacon himself, if we may trust Mr Singer's late elegant reprint, the words are,—“in Councils concerning Religion, that Counsel of the Apostle." What are we to say, however, to the Latin version, executed under Bacon's own superintendence ?—“ Certe optandum esset, ut in omnibus circa Religionem consiliis, ante oculos hominum præfigeretur monitum illud Apostoli.” I quote from the Elzevir edition of 1662; p. 20 Does this support Councils or Counsels concerning Religion ? Other somewhat doubtful instances occur in the 20th Essay, entitled “Of Counsel,” and in the 29th, “Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates."
267. I heard a bustling rumour, like a fray.--Mr Knight has by mistake. “I hear." Rumour is here (though not generally in Shakespeare) only a noise; a fray is a fight, from the French ; bustle is apparently connected with busy, which is an Original English word, and may perhaps be the same with the German böse, wicked. This, if it be so, might lead us to suspect that quick is also wicked. And is weak (in Chaucer wikke or wicke) another variation of the same etymon ?
268. Sooth, madam.-Sooth, when used at all, may still mean either truth or true. We see that in Shakespeare's time it also meant truly. The Original English sóth is in like manner used in all these different ways.
may be doubted whether this word has any connexion either with our modern verb to soothe, or with sweet (anciently sot), the süss of the modern German.
269. Come hither, fellow; which way hast thou been?The line, which stands thus in the original edition, and makes a perfect verse, is commonly cut up into two hemistichs. But “Which way hast thou been” is. not a possible commencement of a verse, unless we were to lay an emphasis on thou, which would be absurd. Our been, it may be noted, is here, and commonly elsewhere, bin in the old text, as the word is still pronounced. Tyrwhitt would substitute Artemidorus for the Soothsayer in this scene; but the change is not necessary. It is to be observed that we have both Artemidorus and the Soothsayer in the next scene (the First of the Third Act). Nevertheless, there is some apparent want of artifice in what may
be almost described as the distribution of one part between two dramatis personæ; and there may possibly be something wrong.
271. What is't o'clock ?-In the original text a clocke. Vid. 65.
277. Why, knowest thou any harm's intended towards him ?--Any harm that is intended. As in 34 and 214.
278. None that I know, etc. -Hanmer and Steevens object to the may chance here, as at once unnecessary
to the sense and injurious to the prosody. We should not have much missed the two words, certainly; but they may be borne with. The line is bisected in the original edition; but, if it is to be accepted, it is better, perhaps, to consider it as a prolonged verse. In this somewhat
doubtful instance the rhythm will be certainly that of an Alexandrine. Let the three words know will be, and also the three fear may chance, at any rate, be each and all emphatically enunciated.
278. I'll get me.-Compare this with get thee gone in 261, and also with get you home in 1.
279. Ay me! how weak a thing. This (written Aye me) is the reading of all the old copies. That of the modern editions, Mr Collier's one-volume included, is 66 Ah me!”
The readers of Milton will remember his “Ay me! I fondly dream, Had we been there," and, again, “Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas Wash far away,” &c. (Lycidas 56 and 154). So also in Comus 511, and Samson Agonistes 330. Even in Paradise Lost we have “ Ay me! they little know How dearly I abide that boast so vain” (iv. 86), and “Ay me! that fear Comes thundering back with dreadful revolution,”although in the latter passage ah has been substituted in many of the modern editions. Ah me is a form which he nowhere uses.
279. The heart of woman is ! etc.—The broken lines here seem to require to be arranged as I have given them. We do not get a complete verse (if that were an object) by the incongruous annexation of the “ O Brutus” to the previous exclamation.
279. Brutus hath a suit, etc.—This she addresses in explanation to the boy, whose presence she had for a moment forgotten.
279. Commend me to my lord. -- In this idiomatic or formal phrase the word commend has acquired a somewhat peculiar signification. The resolution would seem to be, Give my commendation to him, or Say that I commend myself to him, meaning that I commit and recommend myself to his affectionate remembrance. So we have in Latin “Me totum tuo amori fideique commendo (Cicero, Epist. ad Att. ii. 20); and “Tibi me totum