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(C. T. 11621): “With dredful herte and with ful humble chere.” So Gower (Conf. Am. i. p. 247):
Whereof the dredfull hertes tremblen." Wiclif's Bible has “ a dreedful herte” in Deut. xxviii. 65. Compare the use of “awful” in Milton (Hymn on Nativ. 59): “ And kings sat still with awful eye."]
671. By this face. - By this show or pretence of courage.
671. To fasten in our thoughts that they have courage.
We have now lost the power of construing to fasten in this way, as if it belonged to the same class of verbs with to think, to believe, to suppose, to imagine, to say, to assert, to affirm, to declare, to swear, to convince, to inform, to remember, to forget, etc., the distinction of which seems to be that they are all significant either of an operation performed by, or at least with the aid of, or of an effect produced upon, the mind.
672. [Their bloody sign of battle, etc.-Compare North’s Plutarch: “ The next morning by break of day, the signal of battle was set out in Brutus' and Cassius' camp, which was an arming scarlet coat."]
674. Keep thou the left. — Ritson remarks — " The tenor of the conversation evidently requires us to read you." He means, apparently, that you and your are the words used elsewhere throughout • the conversation. But he forgets that the singular pronoun is peculiarly emphatic in this line, as being placed in contrast or opposition to the I. It is true, however, that thou and you were apt to be mistaken for one another in old handwriting from the similarity of the characters used for th and y, which is such that the printers have in many cases been led to represent the one by the other, giving us, for instance, ye for the, yereof, or yof, for thereof, etc.
675. Why do you cross me in this exigent? This is Shakespeare's word for what we now call an exigence, or exigency. Both forms, however, were already in use in his day. Exigent, too, as Nares observes, appears to have then sometimes borne the sense of extremity or end, which is a very slight extension of its proper import of great or extreme pressure. [For an instance of this use of the word, see i Henry VI. ii. 5:
These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
Grow dim, as drawing to their exigent.] 677. Drum, etc. — “Lucilius, Titinius, Messala, and Others" is a modern addition to the heading here.
679. Shall we give sign of battle? - We should now say “give signal."
680. We will answer on their charge. — We will wait till they begin to make their advance.
680. Make forth. - To make, a word which is still used with perhaps as much latitude and variety of application as any other in the language, was, like to do, employed formerly in a number of ways in which it has now ceased to serve us. Nares arranges its obsolete senses under seven heads, no one of which, however, exactly comprehends the sense it bears in the present expression. To make forth is to step forward. What Antony says is addressed, not to the troops, but to Octavius; his meaning is, Let us go forward; the generals — Brutus and Cassius would hold some parley with us.
686. The posture of your blows are yet unknown. - This is the reading of all the old copies. The grammatical irregularity is still common. “Is yet' is the correction of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator. One would be inclined rather to suspect the word posture. It seems a strange word for what it is evidently intended to express.
689. Struck Cæsar on the neck. – O you flatterers! - The word in the old text is strook (as in 347). There is the common prosodical irregularity of a superfluous short syllable. - See 600.
690. Flatterers! - Now, Brutus, thank yourself. - The prosodical imperfection of this line consists in the want of the first syllable. It is a hemistich consisting of four feet and a half.
691. The proof of it. — That is, the proof of our arguing. And by the proof must here be meant the arbitrament of the sword to which it is the prologue or prelude. It is by that that they are to prove what they have been arguing or asserting.
691. Look! I draw a sword, etc. - It is perhaps as well to regard the Look as a hemistich (of half a foot); but in the original edition it is printed in the same line with what follows.
691. Never, till Cæsar's three and thirty wounds. – Theobald changed this to “ three and twenty," “ from the joint authorities," as he says, “ of Appian, Plutarch, and Suetonius.” And he may be right in believing that the error was not Shakespeare's. The “thirty," however, escapes the condemnation of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator.
691. Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors. - This is not very satisfactory; but it is better, upon the whole, than the amendment adopted by Mr. Collier on the authority of his MS. annotator 6. Have added slaughter to the word of traitor ;” - which would seem to be an admission on the part of Octavius (impossible in the circumstances) that Brutus and Cassius were as yet free from actual treasonable slaughter, and traitors only in word or name. (Collier, in his second cdition, remarks that “the emendation may reasonably be disputed," and returns to the old reading.]
692. Cæsar, thou canst not die by traitors' hands. - In the standard Variorum edition, which is followed by many modern reprints, this line is strangely given as “Cæsar, thou canst not die by traitors.” It is right in all Mr. Knight's and Mr. Collier's editions.
694. O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain. Strain, or strene, is stock or race. The word is used several times by Shakespeare in this sense, and not only by Chaucer and Spenser, but even by Dryden, Waller, and Prior. The radical meaning seems to be anything stretched out or extended; hence a series either of progenitors, or of words or musical notes or sentiments.
694. Thou couldst not die more honorable. This is not Shakespeare's usual form of expression, and we may suspect that he actually wrote honorably (or honourablie).
697. The original stage direction is “Exit Octavius, Antony, and Army.”
698. [Why now, blow, wind; etc. - In White's edition this line is punctuated as a question misprint probably.]
699. Ho! Lucilius; etc. — This is given as one verse in the original, and nothing is gained by printing the Ho! in another line by itself, as some modern editors do. The verse is complete, except that it wants the first syllable a natural peculiarity of an abrupt commencement or rejoinder. So in 690. –
In the original edition this speech is followed by the stage direction “Lucillius and Messala stand forth; " and there is no other after 700.
703. As this very day. — We are still familiar with this form of expression, at least in speaking. We
may understand it to mean As is, or as falls, this very day; or rather, perhaps, as if, or as it were, this very day.
703. On our former ensign. - Former is altered to forward, it seems, by Mr. Collier's MS. annotator; and the correction ought probably to be accepted. [But, as White remarks, the use of the comparative for the superlative was not uncommon in Shakespeare's day; and Collier himself retains former.]
703. Who to Philippi here consorted us. — Shakespeare's usual syntax is to consort with; but he has consort as an active verb in other passages as well as here.
703. This morning are they fled away, and gone.
703. As we were sickly prey.- As if we were.
703. [A canopy most fatal. — Hudson has “faithful” instead of “fatal.” If not a misprint, it is a most unfortunate alteration.]
705. To meet all perils. So in the First Folio. The other Folios have peril.
707. Lovers in peace.
707. But, since the affairs of men rest still uncertain. “Rests still incertaine” is the reading in the original edition.
707. Let's reason with the worst that may befall. - The abbreviation let's had not formerly the vulgar or slovenly air which is conceived to unfit it now for dignified composition. We have had it twice