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Or, to go no further, how would Malone, or those who think with him (if there be any), explain the conversation about Benedick's wit in the First Scene of the Fifth Act of the last-mentioned Play without taking the word as there used in the sense which it now ordinarily bears? In the passage before us, to be sure, its meaning is more comprehensive, corresponding nearly to what it still conveys in the expression "the wit of man."
We have the same natural conjunction of terms that we have here in Measure for Measure, v. 1, where the Duke addresses the discomfited Angelo :
"Hast thou or word, or wit, or impudence,
That yet can do thee office?"
436. And bid them speak for me.—The them here, emphatic and yet occupying a place in the verse in which it is commonly laid down that only a short or unaccented syllable can properly stand, is in precisely the same predicament with the him of "When the noble Cæsar saw him stab" of 426. Vid. 537.
444. To every several man.-Several is connected with the verb sever, which is from the Latin separo, through the French sevrer (though that language has also séparer, as we too have separate). "Every several man" is every man by himself or in his individual capacity. The phrase may be illustrated by the legal distinction between estates in severalty and in joint-tenancy or in common. So in 449 we have common pleasures." "These properties of arts or policy, and dissimulation or closeness," says Bacon, in his 6th Essay, " are, indeed, habits and faculties several, and to be distinguished."
449. He hath left them you.-The emphasis is on you. 450. And with the brands fire the traitors' houses.— This is the reading of the First Folio: the Second has "all the traitors' houses," which may be right; for the prolongation of fire into a dissyllable, though it will give us the requisite number of syllables (which satisfies both
Malone and Steevens), will not make a very musical verse. Yet the harshness and dissonance produced by the irregular fall of the accent, in addition to the diæresis, in the case of the word fire, may be thought to add to the force and expressiveness of the line. Mr Collier omits the "all."
454. Take thou what course thou wilt!-How now, fellow?-It is impossible not to suspect that Shakespeare must have written "Take now what course thou wilt." The emphatic pronoun, or even a pronoun at all, is unaccountable here. The abruptness, or unexpectedness, of the appearance of the Servant is vividly expressed by the unusual construction of this verse, in which we have an example of the extreme licence, or deviation from the normal form, consisting in the reversal of the regular accentuation in the last foot. Thus we have in Milton, Paradise Lost, x. 840,
"Beyond all past example and future;"
and again, xi. 683,
"To whom thus Michael: These are the product."
At least, future, which is common in his verse, has everywhere else the accent on the first syllable. Product occurs nowhere else in Milton, and nowhere in Shakespeare. The stage directions before and after this speech. are in the original edition; "Exit Plebeians," and "Enter Servant.”
458. He comes upon a wish.-Coincidently with, as it were upon the back of, my wish for him.
Vid. 589. copies it is "I
459. I heard them say.—In all the old heard him say;" which Jennens explains thus:—“ Him evidently refers to Octavius, who, as he was coming into Rome, had seen Brutus and Cassius riding like madmen through the gates, and had related the same in the presence of the servant." The conjectural emendation of them, however, which appears to have been first proposed by Capell had been long generally received, and is con
firmed by the authority of Mr Collier's manuscript an
459. Are rid like madmen.-Vid. 374.
460. Belike they had some notice of the people.—This now obsolete word belike (probably) is commonly held to be a compound of by and like. But it may perhaps be rather the ancient gelice (in like manner), with a slight change of meaning. Vid. 390.-" Some notice of the people" is some notice respecting the people.
SCENE III.-The same. A Street.
Enter CINNA the Poet.
461. Cin. I dreamt to-night, that I did feast with Cæsar,
I have no will to wander forth of doors,
1 Cit. What is your name?
4 Cit. Are you a married man, or a bachelor?
2 Cit. Answer every man directly.
1 Cit. Ay, and briefly.
4 Cit. Ay, and wisely.
469. 3 Cit. Ay, and truly, you were best.
470. Cin. What is my name? Whither am I going? Where do I
dwell? Am I a married man, or a bachelor? Then to answer every man directly and briefly, wisely and truly. Wisely, I say, I am a bachelor.
471. Cit. That's as much as to say, they are fools that marry :— You'll bear me a bang for that, I fear. Proceed; directly.
Cin. Directly, I am going to Cæsar's funeral.
1 Cit. As a friend, or an enemy?
Cin. As a friend.
2 Cit. That matter is answered directly.
4 Cit. For your dwelling,-briefly.
Cin. Briefly, I dwell by the Capitol.
3 Cit. Your name, Sir, truly.
Cin. Truly, my name is Cinna.
1 Cit. Tear him to pieces, he's a conspirator.
Cin. I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.
4 Cit. Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.
483. Cin. I am not Cinna the conspirator.
484. 2 Cit. It is no matter, his name's Cinna; pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going.
3 Cit. Tear him, tear him. Come, brands, ho! fire-brands. To Brutus', to Cassius'; burn all. Some to Decius' house, and some to Casca's: some to Ligarius': away; go.
461. And things unlikely charge my fantasy.—Instead of unlikely the old text has unluckily. Unlikely, which appears for the first time in Mr Collier's one volume edition, is the restoration of his MS. annotator. It at once, and in the most satisfactory manner, turns nonsense into sense. Read "unlucky"; my mind is,
461. I have no will, etc.
possessed with unlucky Very well illustrated by forebodings.
Steevens in a quotation from The Merchant of Venice, ii. 5, where Shylock says:
"I have no mind of feasting forth to night:
But I will go."
The only stage direction here in the original edition is before this speech :- "Enter Cinna the Poet, and after
him the Plebeians."
469. Ay, and truly, you were best.-This is strictly equivalent to “You would be best," and might perhaps be more easily resolved than the more common idiom, "You had best." But all languages have phraseologies coming under the same head with this, which are not to be explained upon strictly logical principles. Witness the various applications of the Greek exɛ, the French il y a, etc. In the following sentence from As You Like It, i. 1, we have both the idioms that have been referred to::"I had as lief thou didst break his neck as his finger and thou wert best look to it."
470. Wisely, I say, I am a bachelor.-Cinna's meaning evidently is, Wisely I am a bachelor. But that is not
conveyed by the way in which the passage has hitherto been always pointed-" Wisely I say."
471. You'll bear me a bang for that.-You'll get a bang for that (from some one). The me goes for nothing. Vid. 89 and 205.
483. Cin. I am not, etc.-This speeeh was carelessly omitted in the generality of the modern texts, including that of the standard edition of Malone and Boswell, till restored by Mr Knight. It is given, however, in Jennens's collation (1774), and he does not note its omission by any preceding editor.
484. Turn him going.-Turn him off; let him go. The expression occurs also in As You Like It, iii. 1:-" Do this expediently, and turn him going." So in Sir Thomas Urquhart's translation of Rabelais, B. i. ch. 35; "Avoid hence, and get thee going."-This story of Cinna is told by Plutarch in his Life of Cæsar. He says, the people, falling upon him in their rage, slew him outright in the market-place.
The stage direction with which the Act terminates in the original edition is, "Exeunt all the Plebeians."
SCENE I.-The same. A Room in ANTONY'S House.
ANTONY, OCTAVIUS, and LEPIDUS, seated at a Table. 486. Ant. These many, then, shall die; their names are pricked. Oct. Your brother too must die. Consent you, Lepidus ? Lep. I do consent.
Oct. Prick him down, Antony.
490. Lep. Upon condition Publius shall not live,
Who is your sister's son, Mark Antony.
491. Ant. He shall not live; look, with a spot I damn him.
But, Lepidus, go you to Cæsar's house;
Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine
How to cut off some charge in legacies.