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I make thee to promise. The Second Folio has “ the promise."
The heading that follows this speech, and also 155, in the First Folio is Enter Lucius.
154. March is wasted fourteen days. — In all the old editions it is fifteen. The correction was made by Theobald. See 149. Mr. Collier has also fourteen; but he does not here appear to have the authority of his MS. annotator. The heading which precedes is "Enter Lucius” in the original text.
155. The genius and the mortal instruments. The coinmentators have written and disputed lavishly upon these celebrated words. Apparently, by the genius we are to understand the contriving and immortal mind, and most probably the mortal instruments are the earthly passions. The best light for the interpretation of the present passage is reflected from 186, where Brutus, advising with his fellowconspirators on the manner in which they should despatch their mighty victim, not as bloodthirsty butchers, but as performing a sacrifice of which they lamented the necessity, says,
Let our hearts, as subtle masters do,
their servants to an act of rage, And after seem to chide 'em. The servants here may be taken to be the same with the instruments in the passage before us. It has been proposed to understand by the mortal instruments the bodily powers or organs; but it is not obvious how these could be said to hold consultation with the genius or mind. Neither could they in the other passage be so fitly said to be stirred up by the heart,
The bodily organs, however, seem to be distinctly designated the instruments and agents, in Coriolanus, i. 1, where, first, Menenius Agrippa says, in his apologue of the rebellion of the other members of the body against the belly, —
The other instruments
Of the whole body, –
The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer? So again in Macbeth, i. 7:
I am settled, and bent up Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. [On this passage compare Troilus and Cressida,
'Twixt his mental and his active parts Kingdomed Achilles in commotion rages,
And batters down himself.] 155. And the state of a man. - This is the original reading, in which the prosodical irregularity is nothing more than what frequently occurs. The common reading omits the article.
There is certainly nothing gained in vividness of expression by so turning the concrete into the abstract. We have elsewhere, indeed, in Macbeth, i. 3,"My single state
and Falstaff, in the Second Part of Henry IV. iv. 4, speaks of “This little kingdom, man;" but in neither of these cases is the reference in the word man to an individual, as here. [Collier, Dyce, Hudson, Staunton, and White omit the a, which is obviously a misprint of the Folio. Knight retains it, but Dyce reminds him that in his (K.'s) National Edition of Shakespeare, his own printer has accidentally inserted an a in Julius Cæsar, iv. 3:
of man ;
I said an elder soldier, not a better:
Did I say a better? And Craik’s printer has falsified the text in 66, " He is a noble Roman," by omitting the a, and the editor has overlooked the error, just as the proof-reader of 1623 did here.] The Exit Lucius attached to the first line of this speech is modern.
156. Your brother Cassius. Cassius had married Junia, the sister of Brutus.
158. No, Sir, there are moe with him. Moe, not more, is the word here and in other passages, not only in the First, but in all the Four Folios. It was probably the common form in the popular speech throughout the seventeenth century, as it still is in Scotland in the dialectic meh' (pronounced exactly as the English may). No confusion or ambiguity is produced in this case by the retention of the old word, of continual occurrence both in Chaucer and Spenser, such as makes it advisable to convert the then, which the original text of the Plays gives us after the comparative, into our modern than. In some cases, besides, the moe is absolutely required by the verse; as in Balthazar's Song in Much Ado About Nothing (ii. 3) :
Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
Since summer first was leavy. [The modern editors, so far as I know, all give more, except where the rhyme requires moe. In the Bible, edition of 1611, moe is the comparative of many, but it does not seem to have been used for the adverb.]
160. Plucked about their ears. - Pulled down about their ears.
160. By any mark of favour. - That is, of feature or countenance. See 54.
161. When evils are most free! — When evil things have most freedom.
161. To mask thy monstrous visage? - The only prosodical irregularity in this line is the common one of the one supernumerary short syllable (the age of visage). The two unaccented syllables which follow the fifth accented one have no effect.
161. For, if thou path, thy native semblance on. — Coleridge has declared himself convinced that we should here read “ if thou put thy native semblance on;" and Mr. Knight is inclined to agree with him, seeing that putte might be easily mistaken for pathe. If path be the word, the meaning must be, If thou go forth. Path is employed as a verb by Drayton, but not exactly in this sense: he speaks of pathing a passage, and pathing a way, that is, making or smoothing a passage or way. There is no comma or other point after path in the old copies. [White is “ inclined to the opinion that path is a misprint for hadst;” which is not unlikely. The Quarto of 1691 has hath.]
161. To hide thee from prevention. - To prevent (praevenire) is to come before, and so is equivalent in effect with to hinder, which is literally to make behind. I make that behind me which I get before. — The heading that follows is in the old copies, “Enter the Conspirators, Cassius, Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus, and Trebonius."
162. We are too bold upon your rest. - We intrude too boldly or unceremoniously upon your rest.
168. This, Casca; this, Cinna, etc. - I print this speech continuously, as it stands in the original edition, and as Mr. Knight has also given it. It
might perhaps be possible, by certain violent processes, to reduce it to the rude semblance of a line of verse, or to break it up, as has also been attempted, into something like a pair of hemistichs ; but it is far better to regard it as never having been intended for verse at all, like many other brief utterances of the same level kind interspersed in this and all the other Plays. 174. Which is a great way, etc.
- The commentators, who flood us with their explanations of many easier passages, have not a word to say upon this. Casca means that the point of sunrise is as yet far to the south (of east), weighing (that is, taking into account, or on account of) the unadvanced period of the year.
175. Give me your hands all over. · That is, all included. The idiom is still common.
177. If not the face of men. The commentators are all alive here, one proposing to read fate of men, another faith of men, another faiths (as nearer in sound to face). There seems to be no great difficulty in the old reading, understood as meaning the looks of men. It is preferable, at any rate, to anything which it has been proposed to substitute. [Dyce, Hudson, and White have face.]
177. The time's abuse. — The prevalence of abuse generally, all the abuses of the time.
177. Hence to his idle bed. That is, bed of idleness, or in which he may lie doing nothing (not vacant or unoccupied bed, as some would understand it). [Compare the expression, "a sick bed.”]
177. So let high-sighted tyranny. - High-looking, proud. Some modern editions have rage, instead of range, probably by an accidental misprint.
177. Till each man drop by lottery. - That is,