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That is, I sup
generally, and with children, as specially disqualified for looking with any very deep insight into the future. And so doubtless they are apt to be, when very
old 122. Unto some monstrous state. pose, some monstrous or unnatural state of things (not some overgrown commonwealth).
122. And roars, etc. That is, roars in the Capitol as doth the lion. Many readers, I believe, infer from this passage that Cæsar is compared by Cassius to some live lion that was kept in the Capitol. Or perhaps it may be sometimes imagined that he alludes to the same lion which Casca (though not in his hearing) has just been telling Cicero that he had met “ against the Capitol.” The Second and two following Folios have tears for roars.
122. No mightier than thyself, or me. - Of course, in strict grammar it should be than 1. But the personal pronouns must be held to be, in some measure, emancipated from the dominion or tyranny of syntax. Who would rectify even Shelley's bold
lest there be No solace left for thou and me? [And who would venture to imitate it?] The grammatical law has so slight a hold that a mere point of euphony is deemed sufficient to justify the neglect of it.
As we have me for I in the present passage, we have I for me in Antonio's “ All debts are cleared between you and I” (Merchant of Venice, iii. 2).
122. [Prodigious grown. - That is, portentous; as in the other cases in which Shakespeare uses the word, except where Launce (Two Gent. of l'er. ii. 3) speaks of " the prodigious son.
on.”] 124. Let it be who it is.
Not who it may be; Cassius, in his present mood, is above that subterfuge.
While he abstains from pronouncing the name, he will not allow it to be supposed that there is any doubt about the actual existence of the man he has been describing.
124. Thews and limbs. - [Thews here means muscular powers, as in the only other two instances in which Shakespeare uses the word.
“ Care I,” says Falstaff, in the Second Part of King Henry IV. iii. 2," for the limb, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big assemblance of a man? Give me the spirit, Mas.
. ter Shallow.” So Laertes, in Hamlet, i. 3,
For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
Grows wide withal. The word is from the Saxon theow or thesh, whence also thigh, and must not be confounded with the obsolete thews=manners, or qualities of mind, which is from the Saxon theaw. This latter thews is common in Spenser, Chaucer, and earlier writers ; the former is found very rarely before Shakespeare's day. George Turbervile, in his translation of Ovid's Epistles, first printed in 1567, has “the thews of Helen's passing [that is, surpassing] form.” In the earlier version of Layamon's Brut, also, which belongs to the end of the twelfth century, we have in one place (verse 6361), “Monnene strengest of maine and of theawe of alle thissere theode” (of men strongest of main, or strength, and of sinew, of all this land). But Sir Frederick Madden remarks (III. 471), “ This is the only instance in the poem of the word being applied to bodily qualities, nor has any other passage of an earlier date than the sixteenth century been found in which it is so used.”]
124. But, woe the while! — This, I believe, is commonly understood to mean, alas for the present time; but may not the meaning, here at least, rather be, alas for what hath come to pass in the mean while, or in the interval that has elapsed since the better days of our heroic ancestors ?
124. And we are governed with. — We now commonly employ by to denote agency and with where there is only instrumentality ; but that distinction was not formerly so fully established, and with was used more frequently than it is with us. Shakespeare even has (Rich. II. ii. 2), “I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief.” [He has also “ attended with a desperate train," in Lear, ii. 4; and Bacon, too, has" attended with Callisthenes," in the Adv. of Learning, i. 2, $ 11.]
126. I know where I will wear this dagger, then. — The true meaning of this line is ruined by its being printed, as it is in the old, and also in most of the modern editions, without the comma. [Collier, Hudson, and White have the comma; Dyce has not.] Cassius does not intend to be understood as intimating that he is prepared to plunge his dagger into his heart at that time, but in that case.
126. Can be retentive to. Can retain or confine the spirit.
126. If I know this, etc.— The logical connection of “ If I know this” is with “ That part of tyranny, etc.; but there is also a rhetorical connection with 66 Know all the world besides." As if he had said, “Knowing this, I can shake off, etc.; and, I knowing this, let all others too know and beware that I can,” etc.
127. The power to cancel, etc. — Here we have power reduced to a monosyllable, although it had
been employed as a dissyllable only five lines before — “Never lacks power,” etc.
128. He were no lion, etc. - His imagination is still filled with the image by which he has already pictured the tyranny of the Dictator ; - roars, as doth the lion, in the Capitol.” — Hind, a she stag, is correctly formed from the Saxon hinde, of the same meaning; our other hind, a peasant, was originally hine and hina, and has taken the d only for the sake of a fuller or firmer enunciation. It may be noted, however, that, although there is a natural tendency in certain syllables to seek this addition of breadth or strength, it is most apt to operate when it is aided, as here, by the existence of some other word or form to which the d properly belongs. Thus, soun (from sonner and sono) has probably been the more easily converted into sound from having become confounded in the popular ear and understanding with the adjective sound and the verb to sound, meaning to search; and such obsolete or dialectic forms as drownd and swound (for drown and swoon) may be supposed to have been the more readily produced through the misleading influence of the parts of the verb which actually and properly end in d or ed. As we have confounded the old hinde and hine, so we have also the Saxon heord, meaning a flock or crowd (the modern German heerde), with hyrde, meaning a keeper or tender (the modern German hirt); our one form for both being now herd.
128. My answer must be made. - I must answer for what I have said.
129. To such a man, That is, etc. To fleer (or flear, as is the old spelling) is to mock, or laugh at. The word appears to have come to us
from the Norse or Scandinavian branch of the Gothic, one of the sources of our English tongue which recent philology has almost abjured, although, besides all else, we owe to it even forms of such perpetual occurrence as the are of the substantive verb and the ordinary sign of our modern genitive (for such a use of the preposition of common to us with the Swedish, is unknown to the classical Eng. lish of the times before the Norman Conquest, although we have it in full activity, probably adopted from the popular speech of the northern counties, in the written language of the twelfth century).
129. Hold, my hand. -- That is, Have, receive, take hold (of it); there is my hand. The comma is distinctly marked in the early editions. [Staunton omits it. See page 381.]
129. Be factious for redress of all these griefs.Here factious seems to mean nothing more than active or urgent, although everywhere else, I believe, in Shakespeare the word is used in the same disreputable sense which it has at present. Griefs (the form still used in the French language, and retained in our own with another meaning) is his by far more common word for what we now call grievances, although he has that form too occasionally (which Milton nowhere employs). See 435.
130. To undergo, with me, an enterprise. - We should now rather say to undertake where there is anything to be done.
130. Of honorable-dangerous.—These two words were probably intended to make a compound adjective, although the hyphen with which they are connected by most of the modern editors is not in the oldest printed text. The language does not now, at least in serious composition, indulge in compounds