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“Of Counsel," and in the 29th, “Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates."
266. I heard a bustling rumour, like a fray. Mr. Knight has by mistake “I hear.” Rumor is here (though not generally in Shakespeare only a noise; a fray is a fight, from the French ; bustle is apparently connected with busy, which is a Saxon word.
267. Sooth, madam. – Sooth, when used at all, may still mean either truth or true. We see that in Shakespeare's time it also meant truly. The Saxon sóth is in like manner used in all these different ways.
268. Come hither, fellow; which way hast thou been ? - The line, .which stands thus in the original edition, and makes a perfect verse, is commonly cut up into two hemistichs. But “ Which way hast thou been” is not a possible commencement of a verse, unless we were to lay an emphasis on thou, which would be absurd. Our been, it may be noted, is here, and commonly elsewhere, bin in the old text, as the word is still pronounced. Tyrwhitt would substitute Artemidorus for the Soothsayer in this scene; but the change is not necessary. It is to be observed that we have both Artemidorus and the Soothsayer in the next scene (the First of the Third Act). Nevertheless, there is some apparent want of artifice in what may be almost described as the distribution of one part between two dramatis personæ; and there may possibly be something wrong.
270. What is't o'clock ? - In the original text a clocke. See 65.
276. Why, knowest thou any harm's intended towards him ? — Any harm that is intended. As in 34 and 214.
277. None that I know, etc. - Hanmer and Stee vens object to the may chance here, as at once unnecessary to the sense and injurious to the prosody. We should not have much missed the two words, certainly; but they may be borne with. The line is bisected in the original edition ; but, if it is to be accepted, it is better, perhaps, to consider it as a prolonged verse. In this somewhat doubtful instance the rhythm will be certainly that of an Alexandrine. Let the three words know will be, and also the three fear may chance, at any rate, be each and all emphatically enunciated.
277. I'll get me. - Compare this with get thee gone in 260, and also with get you home in 1.
277. [A place more void. For void = empty, as here, see Gen. i. 2; 1 Kings xxii. 10. So Hall, Hen. VIII.: “and yet was in euery voyde place spangels of golde." In Wiclif's Bible, Luke xx. 10, we have, “ beeten him, and letten him go voyde.”]
278. Ay me! how weak a thing. - This (written Aye me) is the reading of all the old copies. That of the modern editions, Mr. Collier's one-volume included, is “Ah me!” The readers of Milton will remember his “ Ay me! I fondly dream, Had ye been there," and, again, " Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas Wash far away,” &c. (Lycidas, 56 and 154). So also in Comus, 511, and Samson Agonistes, 330. Even in Paradise Lost we have “Ay me! they little know How dearly I abide that boast so vain ” (iv. 86), and “Ay me! that fear Comes thundering back with dreadful revolution" (x. 813), - although in the latter passage ah has been substituted in many of the modern editions. Ah me is a form which he nowhere uses.
278. The heart of woman is! etc. The broken lines here seem to require to be arranged as I have
given them. We do not get a complete verse (if that were an object) by the incongruous annexation of the “O Brutus” to the previous exclamation.
278. Brutus hath a suit, etc. - This she addresses in explanation to the boy, whose presence she had for a moment forgotten.
278. Commend me to my lord. In this idiomatic or formal phrase the word commend has acquired a somewhat peculiar signification. The resolution would seem to be, Give my commendation to him, or Say that I commend myself to him, meaning that I commit and recommend myself to his affectionate remembrance. So we have in Latin " Me totum tuo amori fideique commendo” (Cicero, Epist. ad Att. iii. 20); and “ Tibi me totum commendo atque trado” (Id. Epist. Fam. ii. 6). At the same time, in considering the question of the origin and proper meaning of the English phrase the custom of what was called Commendation in the Feudal System is not to be overlooked: the vassal was said to commend himself to the person whom he selected for his lord. Commend is etymologically the same word with command; and both forms, with their derivatives, have been applied, in Latin and the modern tongues more exclusively based upon it, as well as in English, in a considerable variety of ways.
SCENE I. All the heading that we have to this Act in the original copy, where the whole is thrown into one scene, is, “ Flourish. Enter Cæsar, Brutus, Cassius, Caska, Decius, Metellus, Trebonius, Cynna, Antony, Lepidus, Artemidorus, Publius, and the Soothsayer." -A Flourish is defined by Johnson "a kind of musical prelude." It is commonly, if not always, of trumpets. The word is of continual occurrence in the stage directions of our old Plays; and Shakespeare has, not only in his Richard III. iv. 4,
A flourish, trumpets ! — strike alarum, drums! but in Titus Andronicus, iv. 2,
Why do the emperor's trumpets flourish thus? 282. Doth desire you to o'er-read. - Over (or o'er) in composition has four meanings: 1. Throughout (or over all), which is its effect here (answering to the per in the equivalent peruse) ; 2. Beyond, or in excess, as in overleap, overpay; 3. Across, as in one sense of overlook; 4. Down upon, as in another sense of the same verb.
282. At your best leisure. - Literally, at the leisure that is best for your convenience, that best suits you. The phrase, however, had come to be understood as implying that the leisure was also to be as early as could be made convenient.
282. This his humble suit. — Suit is from sue (which we also have in composition in ensue, issue, pursue); and sue is the French suivre (which, again, is from the Latin sequor, secutus). A suit of clothes is a set, one piece following or corresponding to another. Suite is the same word, whether uscd for a retinue, or for any other kind of succession (such as a suite of apartments).
284. That touches us? Ourself shall be last served. - This is the correction of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator. [“ A specious, but entirely needless change,” as White well calls it.] The common reading is, " What touches us ourself shall be last served.” To serve, or attend to, a person is a familiar form of expression; to speak of a thing as served, in the sense of attended to, would, it is apprehended, be unexampled. The “us ourself,” however, would be unobjectionable. Whatever may be the motive or view which has led to the substitution of the plural for the singular personal pronoun in certain expressions, it is evident that the plurality of the pronoun could not conveniently be allowed to carry along with it a corresponding transformation of all the connected words. Although an English king might speak of himself as We, it would be felt that the absurdity was too great if he were to go on to say, “We the Kings of England.” Hence such awkward combinations as “We ourself,” or “Us ourself;” which, however, are only exemplifications of the same construction which we constantly employ in common life when in addressing an individual we say “You yourself.” The same contradiction, indeed, is involved in the word Yourself standing alone. It may be observed, however, that the verb always follows the number of the pronoun
which is its nominative, so that there is never any violation of the ordinary rule of grammatical concord. Upon the nature of the word Self, see Latham, Eng. Lan. 5th Ed. § 661. See also the note on 54, Did lose his lustre.
288. There is no such stage direction in the old editions as we now have at the end of this speech.
291. The stage direction attached to this specchi is also modern.
294. Look, how he makes to Cæsar. - We should now say, he makes up to. And we also say to make for, with another meaning. — For the prosody of this verse, see note on 246.
295. Casca, be sudden, etc. — We should now