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747. What bastard doth not? -- See 177.
751. There is so much, that thou wilt kill me straight. The evident meaning of these words has strangely escaped the acuteness of Warburton, whose interpretation (1747) is, “ So much resistance still on foot, that thou wilt choose to rid me out of the way, that thou mayst go, without the embarras of prisoners, to the assistance of thy friends who still want it.” The true explanation is very well given by Heath in replying to this (in his Revisal of
Shakespeare's Text, 1765): “ There is so much money for thee, on condition that thou wilt kill me straight.”
752. We must not. — A noble prisoner ! – The original edition places the entry of Antony immediately after this speech.
754. I'll tell the news. - This is the conjectural emendation of Theobald. All the Folios, and also both Rowe and Pope, have thee for the. Mr. Collier adopts the emendation. [So do Dyce, Hudson, and White.]
757. And see whe'r Brutus be alive or dead. See 16 and 744. It is “where” again in the original text.
757. How everything is chanced. - See 69 and 373.
SCENE V. The heading of Scene V., with the locality, is, as usual, modern.
760. Sit thee down. — In this common phrase, apparently, the neuter verb to sit has taken the place of the active to seat. Or perhaps we ought rather to say that both in Sit thee and in Hark thee, which we have in the next line and again in 764, thee has usurped the function of thou. We have a similar irregularity in Fare (that is, go) thee well. [Verbs of motion in Saxon are followed by the dative: sit thee is nothing more than a case of this dative, perhaps; or if a reflective verb, it is nothing strange.]
- The marginal “Whispering" at this speech is modern; and so is the “ Whispers him” at 764.
770. That it runs over. - So that, as in 15.
773. Here in Philippi fields. — A common enough form of expression; as Chelsea Fields, Kensington Gardens. There is no need of an apostrophe to Philippi. [North's Plutarch has “ Philippian fields.”]
775. Hold thou my sword hilts. - See 725.
777. There is no tarrying here. – So in Macbeth, v. 5, “ There is nor flying hence, nor tarrying here.” The expression is from North’s Plutarch: “ Volumnius denied his request, and so did many others. And, amongst the rest, one of them said, there was no tarrying for them there, but that they must nee ls fly.”
778. Farewell to you; — etc. – Mr. Collier appends the stage direction, “Shaking hands severally."
778. Farewell to thee too, Strato. — In all the Folios this stands, “ Farewell to thee, to Strato." The correction is one of the many made by Theobald which have been universally acquiesced in. It appears to have escaped Mr. Collier's MS. annotator.
780. Hence; I will follow. — This is the reading of all the old copies. Pope adds thee, in order to make a complete line of the two hemistichs. — The “Exeunt Clitus,” etc., is modern.
780. Thou art a fellow of a good respect. — See 48.
780. Thy life hath had some smatch of honor
in it. - Smatch is only another form of smack, meaning taste. Smack is the word which Shakespeare commonly uses, both as noun and verb. [White has " smack.”]
In the early editions, the stage direction after the last speech of Brutus (782) is, simply, “Dies;” and in the Entry that follows Antony is placed before Octavius, and “their Army” is “ the Army."
787. I will entertain them. — Receive them into my service.
787. Wilt thou bestow thy time with me? Here is another sense of bestow, in addition to that in 139, which is now lost. Bestow'thy time with me means give up thy time to me.
788. If Messala will prefer me to you. — " To prefer,” Reed observes, “ seems to have been the established phrase for recommending a servant." And he quotes from The Merchant of Venice, ii. 2, what Bassanio says to Launcelot,
Shylock, thy master, spoke with me this day,
And hath preferred thee. But to prefer was more than merely to recommend. It was rather to transfer, or hand over; as might be inferred even from what Octavius here rejoins, “ Do so, good Messala.” That it had come usually to imply also something of promotion may be seen from what Bassanio goes on to say:
- if it be preferment
The follower of so poor a gentleman.
allied to Sir Edward Stafford; ... by whom this gentleman was brought up, ... and by him recommended to Sir Robert Cecil ...; who preferred him to Sir Charles Cornwallis, when he went ambassador into Spain; where he remained for the space of eleven or twelve years in the condition of Secretary or Agent, without ever returning into England in all that time” (Hist., Book xiii.).
At an earlier date, again, we have Bacon, in the Dedication of the first edition of his Essays to his brother Anthony, thus writing : “ Since they would not stay with their master, but would needs travail abroad, I have preferred them to you, that are next myself, dedicating them, such as they are, to our love," etc.
790. How died my master, Strato ? — So the First Folio. The Second, by a misprint, omits master. The Third and Fourth have “ my lord.”
792. Octavius, then take him, etc.— That is, accept or receive him from me. It is not, I request you to allow him to enter your service; but I give him to you. See 788.
793. He only, in a generous honest thought Of common good, etc. - We are indebted for this reading to Mr. Collier's MS. annotator. It is surely a great improvement upon the old text, —
He only in a general honest thought,
And common good to all, made one of them. To act “in a general honest thought” is perhaps intelligible, though barely so; but, besides the tautology which must be admitted on the common interpretation, what is to act “in a common good to all”? [Dyce, Hudson, and White follow the old text, which is hardly so bad as Collier and Craik would make it.]
793. Made one of them. — In this still familiar idiom made is equivalent to formed, constituted, and one must be considered as the accusative governed by it. Fecit unum ex eis, or eorum (by joining himself to them).
Here is the prose of Plutarch, as translated by North, out of which this poetry has been wrought: “For it was said that Antonius spake it openly divers times, that he thought, that, of all them that had slain Cæsar, there was none but Brutus only that was moved to it as thinking the act commendable of itself; but that all the other conspirators did conspire his death for some private malice or envy that they otherwise did bear unto him.”
793. His life was gentle; and the elements, etc. - This passage is remarkable from its resemblance to a passage in Drayton's poem of The Barons' Wars. Drayton's poem was originally published some years before the close of the sixteenth century (according to Ritson, Bibl. Poet., under the title of “Mortemeriados. ... Printed by J. R. for Matthew Lownes, 1596,” 4to); but there is, it seems, no trace of the passage in question in that edition. The first edition in which it is found is that of 1603, in which it stands thus:
Such one he was (of him we boldly say)
In him it showed perfection in a man. [And the stanza remained thus in the editions of 1605, 1607, 1608, 1610, and 1613.]