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306. An immediate freedom of repeal.- A free, unconditional recall. This application of the term freedom is a little peculiar. It is apparently imitated from the expression freedom of a city. As that is otherwise called the inunicipal franchise, so this is called enfranchisement in the next speech but one.
308. As low as to thy foot. — The Second Folio has 6 As love."
309. I could be well moved. —I could fitly or properly be moved. 309. If I could pray to move, prayers
would The meaning seems to be, “ If I could employ prayers (as you can do) to move (others), then I should be moved by prayers (as you might be).”
309. But I am constant as the northern star.– See 262.
309. Resting quality. - Quality or property of remaining at rest or immovable.
309. But there's but one in all doth hold his place. — That is, its place, as we should now say.
309. Apprehensive. - Possessed of the power of apprehension, or intelligence. The word is now confined to another meaning.
309. That unassailable, etc. Holds on his rank probably means continues to hold his place; and unshaked of motion, perhaps, unshaken by any motion, or solicitation, that may be addressed to him. Or, possibly, it may be, Holds on his course unshaken in his motion, or with perfectly steady movement.
311. Wilt thou lift up Olympus? - Wilt thou attempt an impossibility? Think you, with your clamor, to upset what is immovable as the everlasting seat of the Gods?
313. Doth not Brutus bootless kneel? - Has not
Brutus been refused, and shall any other be listened to? It is surprising that Dr. Johnson should have missed seeing this, and proposed to read “Do not, Brutus, bootless kneel.” That, however (which Johnson does not appear to have known), is also the reading of the Second Folio, - except, indeed, that the point of interrogation is, notwithstanding, still preserved.
314. — The only stage direction after this speech in the original edition is, “They stab Cæsar."
315. — Et tu, Brute. - There is no ancient Latin authority; I believe, for this famous exclamation, although in Suetonius, i. 82, Cæsar is made to address Brutus Kas où, réxvov; (And thou too, my son ?). It may
have occurred as it stands here in the Latin play on the same subject which is recorded to have been acted at Oxford in 1582; and it is found in The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, first printed in 1595, on which the Third Part of King Henry the Sixth is founded, as also in a poem by S. Nicholson, entitled Acolastus his Afterwit, printed in 1600, in both of which nearly contemporary productions we have the same line — “Et tu, Brute? Wilt thou stab Cæsar too?” It may just be noticed, as the historical fact, that the meeting of the Senate at which Cæsar was assassinated was held, not, as is here assumed, in the Capitol, but in the Curia in which the statue of Pompey stood, being, as Plutarch tells us, one of the edifices which Pompey had built, and had given, along with his famous Theatre, to the public. It adjoined the Theatre, which is spoken of (with the Portico surrounding it) in 130, 138, and 140. The mistake which we have here is found also in Hamlet, where (iii. 2) Hamlet questions Polonius about his histrionic performances when at the University : “I did enact Julius Cæsar," says Polonius; “ I was killed i' the Capitol ; Brutus killed me;" to which the Prince replies, “ It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.” So also, in Antony and Cleopatra, ii. 6:
To drench the Capitol? Even Beaumont and Fletcher, in their Tragedy entitled The False One, in defending themselves from the imputation of having taken up the same subject which had been already brought on the stage in the present Play, say, —
Sure to tell
To the judicious. In the old copies the only stage direction at the end of this speech is the word “ Dies.”
318. Ambition's debt is paid. Its debt to the country and to justice.
324. [Publius, good cheer.— Cheer, Fr. chère, originally meant the countenance, aspect. She cast on me no goodly chere. - Gower, Conf. Am. All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer..
Mid. N.'s Dr. iii. 2. He ended, and his words their drooping cheer
Enlightened. — Milton, P. L. vi. 496. Hence “to be of good cheer” is, literally, to wear a pleasant face, to look cheerful.]
324. Nor to no Roman else. Where, as here, the sense cannot be mistaken, the reduplication of the negative is a very natural way of strengthening the expression. It is common in the Saxon.
326. And let no man abide this deed. - Let no man be held responsible for, or be required to stand any consequences that may follow upon any penalty that may have to be paid on account of, this deed. Another form of the verb to abide is to aby; as in A Midsummer Night's Dream, iii. 2:
If thou dost intend
Thou shalt aby it; – and in the same scene, a little before, “ Lest to thy peril thou aby it dear;” and, a little after, “ Thou shalt 'by this dear.” So in the Old Version of the Psalms, iii. 26, “ Thou shalt dear aby this blow.” It may
be questioned w abide in this sense has any connection with the common word. To aby has been supposed by some to be the same with buy. - The original stage direction is Enter Trebonius.
327. Where's Antony. - In the original text, " Where is Antony."
328.. As it were doomsday. — The full expression would be “as if it were doomsday.” — The doom of doomsday is the Saxon dóm, judgment, a derivative of déman (whence our deem), to judge. The Judges in the Isle of Man and in Jersey are called Deemsters. In Scotland formerly the Dempster of Court was the legal name for the common hangman; but the word also designated a species of judge. The Dempsters of Caraldstone in Forfarshire were so called as being hereditary judges to the great Abbey of Aberbrothock. Lord Hailes, under the year 1370, refers to an entry in the Chartulary recording that one of them had become bound to the Abbot and Abbey that he and his heirs should furnish a person to administer justice in their courts at an annual salary of twenty shillings sterling (facient ipsis deserviri de officio judicis, etc.). Annals, ii. 336 [edit. of 1819].
330. Why, he that cuts off, etc. The modern editors, generally, give this speech to Cassius; but it is assigned to Casca in all the old copies. [Hudson and White give it to Casca. The former remarks that it is strictly in keeping with what Casca says in 127.]
332. Stoop, then, and wash. - So in Coriolanus, i. Io, we have
fierce hand in his heart.” In both passages wash, which is a Saxon word (preserved also in the German waschen), is used in what is probably its primitive sense of immersing in or covering with liquid. Thus we say to wash with gold or silver. So in Antony and Cleopatra, v. 1, Octavius, on being told of the death of Antony, exclaims, “ It is a tidings To wash the eyes of kings.”
332. In states unborn. - The First Folio, and that only, has “ In state unborn,” — palpably a typographical error, and as such now given up by everybody, but a reading which Malone, in his abject subservience to the earliest text, actually retained, or restored, interpreting it as meaning " in theatric pomp as yet undisplayed.”
333. That now on Pompey's basis lies along. At the base of Pompey's statue, as in 425.- In the First Folio it is "lye along;” in the Second, "lyes." [“ Lie along” for lie at full length, be prostrate, occurs in Judges vii. 13. For another instance in Shakespeare see Coriol. v. 6: “When he lies along," etc.]
334. The men that gave their country liberty. – This is the reading of all the old copies, which Mr.