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Scene 1st.—The heading here in the Folios (in which there is no division into Scenes), is merely “ Enter Brutus in his Orchard.” Assuming that Brutus was probably not possessed of what we now call distinctively an orchard (which may have been the case), the modern editors of the earlier part of the last century took upon them to change Orchard into Garden. But this is to carry the work of rectification (even if we should admit it to be such) beyond what is warrantable. To deprive Brutus in this way of his orchard was to mutilate or alter Shakespeare's conception. It is probable that the words Orchard and Garden were commonly understood in the early part of the seventeenth century in the senses which they now bear; but there is nothing in their etymology to support the manner in which they have come to be distinguished. A Garden (or yard, as it is still called in Scotland) means merely a piece of ground girded in or enclosed ; and an Orchard (properly Ortyard) is, literally, such an enclosure for worts, or herbs. At one time Orchard used to be written Hortyard, under the mistaken notion that it was derived from hortus (which may, however, be of the same stock).
143. How near to day.-How near it may be to the day.
143. I would it were my fault.—Compare the use of fault here with its sense in 120.
143. When, Lucius, when ?—This exclamation had not formerly the high tragic or heroic sound which it would now have. It was merely a customary way of calling impatiently to a servant who had not obeyed a previous summons.
147. But for the general.—The general was formerly a common expression for what we now call the community or the people. Thus Angelo in Measure for Measure, ii. 4:. “The general, subject to a well-wished king,
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
Crowd to his presence.” 147. And that craves. It might be questioned whether that here be the demonstrative (as it is commonly considered) or the relative (to the antecedent “ the bright day”).
147. Crown him? That.-Here the emphatic that appears to be used exactly as so (etymologically of the same import) often is. Vid. 57. Either, or any equivalent term, thus used, might obviously serve very well for the sign of affirmation ; in the present passage we might substitute yes for that with the same effect. The French oui, anciently oyl, is believed to be merely the ill of the classic ill-e, ill-a, ill-ud, and the old Provençal oc to be hoc. The common word for yes in Italian, again, si (not unknown in the same sense to the French tongue), may be another form of 80. The three languages used to be distinguished as the Langue d'Oyl (or Lingua Oytana), the Langue d'Oc (or Lingua Occitana), and the Lingua di Si.- The pointing in the First Folio here is “ Crowne him that, And then,” etc.
147. Do danger.—The word danger, which we have borrowed from the French, is a corruption of the middle age Latin domigerium, formed from damno. It is, in fact, radically the same with the word damage. A detail of the variations of meaning which it has undergone in both languages would make a long history. In French also it anciently bore the same sense (that of mischief) which it has here. Some times, again, in both languages, it signified power to do mischief or to injure; as when Portia, in The Merchant of Venice (iv. 1), speaking to Antonio of Shylock, says, “ You stand within his danger, do you not ?"
147. The abuse of greatness is, etc.—The meaning apparently is, “ The abuse to which greatness is most subject is when it deadens in its possessor the natural sense of humanity, or of that which binds us to our kind; and this I do not say that it has yet done in the case of Cæsàr; I have never known that in him selfish affection, or mere passion, has carried it over reason.” Remorse is generally used by Shakespeare in a wider sense than that to which it is now restricted.
147. But 'tis a common proof.-A thing commonly proved or experienced (what commonly, as we should say, proves to be the case).
147. Whereto the climber upward, etc.—There is no hyphen in the original text connecting climber and upward, as there is in some modern editions; but if there could be any doubt as to whether the adverb should be taken along with climber or with turns, it would be determined by the expression in Macbeth, iv. 2:4" Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward To what they were before.”
147. The upmost round. The step of a ladder has come to be called a round, I suppose, from its being usually cylindrically shaped. Mr. Knight (whose col
14: Juf modern bus vid. 16.
We should not
lation of the old copies is in general so remarkably careful) has here (probably by a typographical error) utmost.
147. The base degrees.—The lower steps of the ladder-les bas degrés (from the Latin gradus) of the French. The epithet base, however, must be understood to express something of contempt, as well as to designate the position of the steps.
147. By which he did ascend. It is not the syntax of our modern English to use the auxiliary.verb in such a case as this. Vid. 16.
147. Then, lest he may, prevent.—We should not now say to prevent lest. But the word prevent continued to convey its original import of to come before more distinctly in Shakespeare's day than it does now. Vid. 161 and 707.
147. Will bear no colour for the thing he is.-- Will take no show, no plausibility, no appearance of being a just quarrel, if professed to be founded upon what Cæsar at present actually is. The use of colour, and colourable, in this sense is still familiar.
147. What he is, augmented. What he now is, if augmented or heightened (as it is the nature of things that it should be).
147. Would run to these, etc.—To such and such extremities (which we must suppose to be stated and explained). Vid. 109.
147. Think him as.--. We do not now use think in this sense without a preposition.
147. As his kind.—Like his species.
147. And kill him in the shell.-It is impossible not to feel the expressive effect of the hemistich bere, The line itself is, as it were, killed in the shell.
148. This speech is headed in the Folios “ Enter Lucius." The old Stage direction, “ Gives him the Letter,” is omitted by most of the modern editors.
149. The ides of March.—The reading of all the ancient copies is “ the first of March ;" it was Theobald who first made the correction, which has been adopted by all succeeding editors (on the ground that the day was actually that of the ides). At the same time, it does not seem to be impossible that the poet may have intended to present a strong image of the absorption of Brutus by making him forget the true time of the month. The reply of Lucius after consulting the Calendar—“Sir, March is wasted fourteen days”-sounds very much as if he were correcting rather than confirming his master's notion. Against this view we have the considerations stated by Warburton :-“We can never suppose the speaker to have lost fourteen days in his account. He is here plainly ruminating on what the Soothsayer told Cæsar [i. 2] in his presence [Beware the ides of March]." Mr. Collier also prints “ the ides ;' but whether or no upon the authority of his MS. annotator does not appear.—Mr. Knight, I apprehend, must be mistaken in saying that Shakespeare found “the first of March” in North’s Plutarch : the present incident is not, I believe, anywhere related by Plutarch.
153. Brutus, thou sleep'st; awake !—I have endeavoured to indicate by the printing that the second enunciation of these words is a repetition by Brutus to himself, and not, as it is always made to appear, a further portion of the letter. The letter unquestionably concluded with the emphatic adjuration, “Speak, strike, redress!" It never, after this, would