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common use in his day, is found in Chaucer in the form Mary, and appears to be merely a mode of swearing by the Holy Virgin.
78. Every time gentler than other.—This use of other appears to have been formerly common. So in Macbeth, i. 7, the First Folio has “ Vaulting ambition, which o'er-leaps itself, And falls on the other,”— which, although rejected by most of the modern editors, is probably the true reading. The other in both passages ought probably to be considered as a substantive, as it still is in other cases, though it is no longer used exactly in this way.
82. The rabblement shouted.—The first three Folios have howted, the Fourth houted. The common reading is hooted. But this is entirely inconsistent with the context. The people applauded when Cæsar refused the crown, and only hissed or hooted when they thought he was about to accept it. Shouted was substituted on conjecture by Hanmer, and almost indicates itself; but, as it is adopted by Mr. Collier, it probably has the support of his MS. annotator. Yet, if it has, he has not thought it worth mentioning in his Notes and Emendations.
82. Their chopped hands.-In the old copies chopt. Mr. Collier, however, has chapped.
82. For he swooned.-Swoonded is the word in all the Folios.
83. Did Cæsar swoon ?-Here swound is the word in all the Folios.
85. 'Tis very like: he hath the falling sickness.Like is likely, or probable, as in 57. I am surprised to find Mr. Collier adhering to the blundering punctuation of the early copies, “ 'Tis very like he hath,"
etc. Cæsar's infirmity was notorious; it is mentioned both by Plutarch and Suetonius.
86. And honest Casca, etc.—The slight interruption to the flow of this line occasioned by the supernumerary syllable in Casca adds greatly to the effect of the emphatic we that follows. It is like the swell of the wave before it breaks.
87. If the tag-rag people.-In Coriolanus, iii. 1, we have “ Will you hence, before the tag return." “ This,” says Nares, “is, perhaps, the only instance of tag without his companions rag and bobtail, or at least one of them.”
87. No true man.-No honest man, as we should now say. Jurymen, as Malone remarks, are still styled “good men and true.”
89. He plucked me ope his doublet.Though we still use to ope in poetry, ope as an adjective is now obsolete. As for the me in such a phrase as the present, it may be considered as being in the same predicament with the my in My Lord, or the mon in the French Monsieur. That is to say, it has no proper pronominal significancy, but merely serves (in so far as it has any effect) to enliven or otherwise grace the expression. How completely the pronoun is forgotten,-or we may say, quiescent—in such a case as that of Monsieur, is shown by the common phrase“ Mon cher monsieur." Vid. 205 and 471.
89. A man of any occupation. This is explained by Johnson as meaning “a mechanic, one of the plebeians to whom he offered his throat.” But it looks as if it had more in it than that. In the Folios it is “ and I had been a man;" and again in 95" and I tell you."
95. Marullus and Flavius. In this instance the
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Marullus is Murrellus in the First Folio (instead of Murellus, as elsewhere).
97. I am promised forth.--An old phrase for I have an engagement.
102. He was quick mettle.—This is the reading of all the old copies. Mr. Collier, however, probably on the authority of his MS. corrector, has mettled, which may be right. I have allowed the distinction made by the modern editors between metal and mettle to stand throughout the Play, although there can be little doubt that the latter form is merely a corruption of the former, and that the supposed two words are the same.. In the First Folio it is always mettle; in 16 and 105, as well as here and in 177 and 506. Dr. Webster, however, thinks that mettle may be the Welsh mezwl or methwl, mind.
103. However he puts on. We should hardly now use however, in this sense, with the indicative mood. We should have to say, “ However he may put on.”This tardy form : this shape, semblance, of tardiness or dulness. · 104. I will come home to you... Come home to me. To come home to one, for to come to one's house, is another once common phrase which is now gone out of use.
105. Think of the world. The only meaning that this can have seems to be, Think of the state in which the world is.
105. From that it is disposed.--Here we have the omission, not only of the relative, which can easily be dispensed with, but also of the preposition governing it, which is an essential part of the verb; but, illegitimate as such syntax may be, it is common with our
writers down to a date long subsequent to Shakespeare's age. Vid. 224.
105. Therefore it is meet. It is (instead of 'tis) is the reading of the First Folio, which has been restored by Mr. Knight. The excess here is of a syllable (the fore of therefore) not quite so manageable as usual, and it makes the verse move ponderously, if we must not say halt; but perhaps such a prosody may be thought to be in accordance with the grave and severe spirit of the passage.
105. With their likes.-We scarcely use this substantive now.
105. Cæsar doth bear me hard.—Evidently an old phrase for does not like me, bears me a grudge. It occurs again in 199, and a third time in 345. In 199, and there only, the editor of the Second Folio has changed hard into hatred, in which he has been followed by the Third and Fourth Folios, and also by Rowe, Pope, Hanmer, and even Capel. Mr. Collier's MS. annotator restores the hard. It is remarkable that the expression, meeting us so often in this one Play, should be found nowhere else in Shakespeare. Nor have the commentators been able to refer to an instance of its occurrence in any other writer.
105. He should not humour me.—The meaning seems to be, If I were in his position (a favourite with Cæsar), · and he in mine (disliked by Cæsar), he should not ca
jole, or turn and wind, me, as I now do him. He and me are to be contrasted by the emphasis, in the same manner as I and he in the preceding line. This is Warburton's explanation; whose remark, however, that the words convey a reflection on Brutus's ingratitude, seems unfounded. It is rather Brutus's sim
plicity that Cassius has in his mind. It would be satisfactory, however, if other examples could be produced of the use of the verb to humour in the sense assumed. Johnson appears to have quite mistaken the meaning of the passage: he takes the he to be not Brutus, but Cæsar; and his interpretation is "his (that is, Cæsar's) love should not take hold of my affection, so as to make me forget my principles.”
105. In several hands.-Writings in several hands.
105. Let Cæsar seat him sure.-Seat himself firmly (as on horseback).
The heading of Scene III. in the old copies is only “Thunder and Lightning. Enter Casca, and Cicero.”
106. Brought you Cæsar home ?-Both bring and fetch, which are now ordinarily restricted (at any rate the former) to the sense of carrying hither (so that we cannot say Bring there), were formerly used in that of carrying or conveying generally. To bring one on his way, for instance, was to accompany him even if he had been leaving the speaker. So “ Brought you Cæsar home?” is Did you go home with Cæsar? The word retains its old sense in the expressions To bring forth (fruit, or young) and To bring down (a bird with a gun).
107. All the sway of earth.-Sway, swing, swagger, are probably all of the same stock with weigh and also with wave. The sway of earth may be explained as the balanced swing of earth.
107. Like a thing unfirm.- We have now lost the adjective unfirm, and we have appropriated infirm almost exclusively to the human body and mind, and their states and movements. For infirm generally we can only say not firm.