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520. Lucius, do you the like; etc. The original text is,
Lucillius, do you the like, and let no man
Come to our tent, till we have done our Conference.
To cure the prosody in the first line, Steevens and other modern editors strike out the you. It is strange that no one should have been struck with the absurdity of such an association as Lucius and Titinius for the guarding of the door an officer of rank and a servant boy the boy, too, being named first. The function of Lucius was to carry messages. As Cassius sends his servant Pindarus with a message to his division of the force, Brutus sends his servant Lucius with a similar message to his division. Nothing can be clearer than that Lucilius in the first line is a misprint for Lucius, and Lucius in the third a misprint for Lucilius. Or the error may have been in the copy; and the insertion of the Let was probably an attempt of the printer, or editor, to save the prosody of that line, as the omission of the you is of the modern editors to save that of the other. The present restoration sets everything to rights. [White adopts Craik's emendation, but Collier and Dyce take no notice of it.] At the close of the conference we have Brutus, in 579, again addressing himself to Lucilius and Titinius, who had evidently kept together all the time it lasted. Lucius (who in the original text is commonly called the Boy) and Titinius are nowhere mentioned together. In the heading of Scene III., indeed, the modern editors have again "Lucius and Titinius at some distance; " but this is their own manufacture. All that we have in the old copies is, "Manet Brutus and Cassius." See also 570.
SCENE III. [Plutarch in his Life of Marcus Brutus (North's translation, 1579, p. 1071), says, "Therefore, before they fell in hand with any other matter, they went into a little chamber together, and bad every man avoyde, and did shut the dores to them. Then they beganne to powre out their complaints, one to the other, and grew hot and lowde, earnestly accusing one another, and at length fell both a weeping. Their friends, that were without the chamber, hearing them lowd within and angry betwene them selves, they were both amased, and affrayd also, lest it would grow to further matter."] 521. [You have condemned and noted. Compare North's Plutarch: "The next day after, Brutus, upon complaint of the Sardians, did condemn and note Lucius Pella for a defamed person," etc.]
521. Wherein my
letters. were slighted off. - The printer of the First Folio, evidently misunderstanding the passage, gives us,
Wherein my Letters, praying on his side,
The Second Folio has,
Wherein my Letter, praying on his side,
[White adopts this reading.] At a date considerably later than Shakespeare we have still slighted over (for to treat or perform carelessly). It is used by Dryden in the end of the seventeenth century, as it had been by Bacon in the beginning. The connection of the various modifications of the term slight is sufficiently obvious. They all involve the notion of quickly and easily escaping or being despatched and got rid of.
523. That every nice offence, etc.- Nice is the Saxon nesc or hnesc, tender, soft, gentle. [For a different etymology see the revised Webster. For nice in the sense of "trivial," compare "How nice the quarrel was," Romeo and Juliet, iii. 1, and "The letter was not nice," same Play, v. 2. Mrs. Clarke will furnish other examples.] In modern English the word always implies smallness or pettiness, though not always in a disparaging sense, but rather most usually in the contrary. So a pet, literally something small, is the common name for anything that is loved and cherished. For "his comment' see 54.
524. Let me tell you, Cassius, etc. Here we have a line with the first syllable wanting, which may be regarded as the converse of those wanting only the last syllable noticed in the note on 246. So, lower down, in 540, we have another speech of Brutus commencing, with like abruptness, with a line which wants the two first syllables: "You say you are a better soldier."- For the true nature of the hemistich see the note on "Made in her concave shores" in 15.
524. Are much condemned to have an itching palm. To condemn to is now used only in the sense of sentencing to the endurance of. In the present passage the to introduces the cause, not the consequence, of the condemnation. "You are condemned" is used as a stronger expression for you are said, you are alleged, you are charged. An itching palm is a covetous palm; as we say an itch for praise, an itch for scribbling, etc., or as in the translation of the Bible we read, in 2 Tim. iv. 3, of the people "having itching ears" (being exactly after the original, κνηθόμενοι τὴν ἀκοήν).
524. To sell and mart your offices. — To make merchandise, or matter of bargain and sale, of your appointments and commissions. Mart is held to be a contraction of market, which is connected with the Latin merx and mercor, and so with merchant, mercantile, commerce, etc.
524. To undeservers. -We have lost both this substantive and the verb to disserve (to do an injury to), which Clarendon uses; though we still retain the adjective undeserving.
528, 529. And bay the moon. Brutus, bay not me. - In the First Folio we have "bay the moon," and "bait not me;" in all the others, "bait the moon" and "bait not me." Theobald suggested" bay the moon" and "bay not me;" and this accords with the reading given by Mr. Collier's MS. annotator, who in 528 restores in the Second Folio the bay of the First, and in 529 corrects the bait of all the Folios into bay. [Dyce and White follow Theobald, but Hudson prefers the reading of the First Folio.] To bay the moon is to bark at the moon; and bay not me would, of course, be equivalent to bark not, like an infuriated dog, at me. See 348. To bait, again, from the French battre, might be understood to mean to attack with violence. So in Macbeth, v. 7, we have "to be baited with the rabble's curse." It is possible that there may have been some degree of confusion in the minds of our ancestors between bait and bay, and that both words, imperfectly conceived in their import and origin, were apt to call up a more or less distinct notion of encompassing or closing in. Perhaps something of this is what runs in Cassius's head when he subjoins, "You forget yourself, To hedge me in" - although Johnson interprets these words as meaning "to limit
my authority by your direction or censure." The present passage may be compared with one in A Winter's Tale, ii. 3 :—
Who late hath beat her husband,
A third Anglicized form of battre, in addition to beat and bait, is probably bate, explained by Nares as a term in falconry; to flutter the wings as preparing for flight, particularly at the sight of prey." Thus Petruchio, in The Taming of the Shrew, iv. 1, speaking of his wife, after observing that his "falcon now is sharp, and passing empty" (that is, very empty, or hungry), goes on to say that he has another way to man his haggard (that is, apparently, to reduce his wild hawk under subjection to man) :—
That is, to watch her, as we watch those kites
Nares quotes the following passage from a letter of Bacon's as beautifully exemplifying the true meaning of the word: "Wherein [viz. in matters of business] I would to God that I were hooded, that I saw less; or that I could perform more: for now I am like a hawk that bates, when I see occasion of service; but cannot fly, because I am tied to another's fist." The letter, which was first printed by Rawley in the First Part of the Resuscitatio (1657), is without date, and is merely entitled "A Letter to Queen Elizabeth, upon the sending of a New-Year's Gift."
529. I am a soldier, I.—It is impossible to be quite certain whether the second I here be the pronoun or the adverb which we now write Ay. See the note on "I, as Æneas,” in 54.
529. To make conditions. — To arrange the terms on which offices should be conferred.