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It is remarkable that not only in the present Play, but also in Hamlet and in Antony and Cleopatra, the assassination of Cæsar should be represented as having taken place in the Capitol. From the Prologue, quoted above, to Beaumont and Fletcher's tragedy of The False One, too, it would appear as if this had become the established popular belief; but the notion may very probably be older than Shakespeare.
Another deviation from the literalities of history which we find in the Play, is the making the Triumvirs in the opening scene of the Fourth Act hold their meeting in Rome. But this may have been done deliberately, and neither from ignorance nor forgetfulness.
I have had no hesitation in discarding, with all the modern editors, such absurd perversions as Antonio, Flavio, Lucio, which never can have proceeded from Shakespeare, wherever they occur in the old copies; and in adopting Theobald's rectification of Murellus (for Marullus), which also cannot be supposed to be anything else than a mistake made in the printing or transcription. But it seems hardly worth while to change our familiar Portia into Porcia (although Johnson, without being followed, has adopted that perhaps more correct spelling in his edition).
The peculiarity of the form given to the name of Cæsar's wife in this Play does not seem to have been noticed. The only form of the name known to antiquity is Calpurnia. And that is also the name even in North’s English translation of Plutarch, Shakespeare's great authority.* The Calphurnia of all the old copies of the Play, adopted by all the modern editors, may be nothing better than an invention of the printers. I have not, how
* Mr Senior, in his late reprint of Bacon's Essays, at p. 99, gives the name Calfurnia; but that form is not to be found, I apprehend, in any of the old copies.
ever, ventured to rectify it, in the possibility that, although a corrupt form, it may be one which Shakespeare found established in the language and in possession of the public ear. In that case, it will be to be classed with Anthony, Protheus, and Bosphorus, the common modern corruption of the classic Bosporus, which even Gibbon does not hesitate to use.
The name of the person called Decius Brutus throughout the play was Decimus Brutus. Decius is not, like Decimus, a prænomen, but a gentilitial name. The error, however, is as old as the edition of Plutarch’s Greek text produced by Henry. Stephens in 1572; * and it occurs likewise in the accompanying Latin translation, and both in Amyot's and Dacier's French, as well as in North's English. It is also found in Philemon Holland's translation of Suetonius, published in 1606. Lord Stirling in his Julius Cæsar, probably misled in like manner by North, has fallen into the same mistake with Shakespeare. That Decius is no error of the press is shown by its occurrence sometimes in the verse in places where Decimus could not stand.
Finally, it may be noticed that it was really this Decimus Brutus who had been the special friend and favourite of Cæsar, not Marcus Junius Brutus the conspirator, as represented in the Play. In his misconception upon this point our English dramatist has been followed by Voltaire in his tragedy of La Mort de César, which is written avowedly in imitation of the Julius Cæsar of Shakespeare.
The wholly new readings in the Play of Julius Cæsar which Mr Collier appears to have obtained from his manuscript annotator are the following, twenty-three in number:
* 'Εν δε τούτω Δέκιος Βρούτος επίκλησιν 'Αλβίνος. Vit. Cæs. p. 1354.
ACT I. 102. He was quick mettled when he went to school. But this, although given in the Regulated Text of the Plays, is not noticed either in the Notes and Emendations or in the List. 109. These are their seasons, they are natural.
303. Casca. Are we all ready?-Cæs. What is now amiss, &c But this is not noticed in the List. 305. These crouchings, and these lowly courtesies.
Low-crouched courtesies, and base spaniel fawning.
542. I said, an older soldier, not a better.
559. A flatterer's would not, though they did appear.
690. While damned Casca, like a cur, behind. But this is only given in the Regulated Text.
692. Have added slaughter to the word of traitor,
711. Must end that work the ides of March began. But this is only given in the Regulated Text. 794. He only, in a generous honest thought
Of common good to all, made one of them.
And the emendations in the MS. also include the following eleven readings which had been conjecturally proposed before its discovery :
ACT V. 709. The term of life ; arming myself with patience. Finally, the reading of the First Folio, which had been altered in the Second, is restored by the MS. annotator in the following ten instances :
Of these forty four corrections, thirty two are adopted in the present text; and, of the remaining twelve, only one or two can be regarded, I think, as clearly wrong.
I have not thought it necessary to distinguish the cases in which the verbal affix -ed is to be united in the pronunciation with the preceding syllable by the usual substitution of the apostrophe in place of the silent vowel. Why should the word loved, for example, so sounded be represented differently in verse from what it always is in prose? It is true that the cases in which the -ed makes a separate syllable are more numerous in Shakespeare than in the poetry of the present day; but the reader who cannot detect such a case on the instant is disqualified by some natural deficiency for the reading of verse. If any distinction were necessary, the better plan would be to represent the one form by “loved," the other by “lov-ed.”
I have not thought it necessary in the present revision to make the numerous typographical rectifications which would have been required in the margin of every page, and also in many of the references, to remove the traces of an unimportant error of one in the numbering of the speeches from 249 (on p. 180), which ought to be 248, onwards to the end of the play.-1863.