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first called fondness it must have been regarded as a kind of folly. In like manner what was thought of doting upon anything, or any person, may be inferred from the import of the word dotage. In Chaucer a fonne is a fool; and the word fondling can scarcely be said to have yet lost that meaning.
[Compare Wiclif's Bible, i Cor. i. 27: “But God chees the thingis that ben fonnyd of the world to confounde wise men.” So Udall's Erasmus: “ With these fond ceremonies is the tyme consumed awaie therewhyle," etc. And Latimer, Sermons: “It is a fond thing: I will not tarry in it.”]
304. Such rebel blood, That will be thawed.
304. Low-crouched curtsies. This is the correction of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator : the Folios have “Low-crooked-curtsies” (with hyphens connecting all the three words). We say to crouch low, but not to crook low. Curtsies, which we have here, is the same word which appears in the second line of the present speech as courtesies. It is akin to court and courteous, the immediate root being the French cour; which, again, appears to be the Latin curia, - or rather curiata (scil. comitia?), as is indicated by our English court, and the old form of the French word, which was the same, and also by the Italian corte and the Spanish corte and cortes. [Wedgwood derives court from the Latin cohors, chors, an enclosed place. Scheler, Dict. d'Etymol. Franc., and the revised Webster also give this etymology.] Mr. Collier prints courtesies. It is curtsies in the Second Folio, as well as in the First.
304. Know, Cæsar doth not wrong, etc. This is the reading of all the old printed copies, and Mr. Collier expressly states that it is left untouched by his MS.
corrector. We must take it as meaning, “ Cæsar never does what is wrong or unjust; nor will he be appeased (when he has determined to punish) without sufficient reason being shown.” At the same time, it must be confessed both that these two propositions, or affirmations, do not hang very well together, and also that such meaning as they may have is not very clearly or effectively expressed by the words. “Nor without cause will he be satisfied” has an especially suspicious look. That
without cause should mean without sufficient reason being shown why he should be satisfied or induced to relent, is only an interpretation to which we are driven for want of a better. Now, all this being so, it is remarkable that there is good evidence that the passage did not originally stand as we now have it. Ben Jonson, in his Discoveries, speaking of Shakespeare, says, “ Many times he fell into those things could not escape laughter; as when he said in the person of Cæsar, one speaking to him, ' Cæsar, thou dost me wrong,' he replied, “Cæsar did never wrong but with just cause.'
And he ridicules the expression again in his Staple of News: "Cry you mercy; you never did wrong but with just cause." We must believe that the words stood originally as Jonson has given them; and he had evidently heard of no alteration of them. Whoever may have attempted to mend them might perhaps have as well let them alone. [Hudson and White agree with Collier in the opinion that Jonson was speaking only from memory, which, as he himself says, was " shaken with age now, and sloth,” and so misquoted the Poet.] After all, Cæsar's declaring that he never did wrong but with just cause would differ
little from what Bassanio says in The Merchant of Venice, iv. I:
I beseech you,
To do a great right do a little wrong. Shakespeare, however, may have retouched the passage himself on being told of Jonson's ridicule of it, though perhaps somewhat hastily and with less painstaking than Euripides when he mended or cut out, as he is said to have done in several instances, what had incurred the derisive criticism of Aristophanes.
305. For the repealing, etc. - To repeal (from the French rappeler) is literally to recall, though no longer used in that sense, — in which, however, it repeatedly occurs in Shakespeare. Thus in Coriolanus, iv. 1, after the banishment of Marcius, his friend Cominius says to him,
If the time thrust forth A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send, etc. For the probable pronunciation of banished in this and in the preceding speech, see the note on 246.
306. Desiring thee. - We should now say in this sense“ desiring of thee.” To desire, from the Latin desiderium (through the French désir) is the same as to desiderate ; but, like other similar terms, it has in different constructions, or has had in different stages of the language, various meanings according to the measure or degree of intensity in which that which it expresses is conceived to be presented. It may be found in every sense, from such wishing or longing as is the gentlest and quietest of all things (the soft desire of the common herd of our amatory verse-mongers) to that kind which gives utterance to itself in the most imperative style of command.
306. An immediate freedom of repeal. - A free, unconditional recall. This application of the term freedom is a little peculiar. It is apparently imitated from the expression freedom of a city. As that is otherwise called the municipal franchise, so this is called enfranchisement in the next speech but one.
308. As low as to thy foot. — The Second Folio has 66 As love."
309. I could be well moved. - I could fitly or properly be moved. 309. If I could pray to move, prayers would move
The meaning seems to be, “ If I could employ prayers (as you can do) to move (others), then I should be moved by prayers (as you might be).”
309. But I am constant as the northern star.See 262.
309. Resting quality. - Quality or property of remaining at rest or immovable.
309. But there's but one in all doth hold his place. — That is, its place, as we should now say.
309. Apprehensive. — Possessed of the power of apprehension, or intelligence. The word is now confined to another meaning.
309. That unassailable, etc. Holds on his rank probably means continues to hold his place; and un shaked of motion, perhaps, unshaken by any motion, or solicitation, that may be addressed to him. Or, possibly, it may be, Holds on his course unshaken in his motion, or with perfectly steady movement.
311. Wilt thou lift up Olympus? - Wilt thou attempt an impossibility? Think you, with your clamor, to upset what is immovable as the everlasting seat of the Gods ?
313. Doth not Brutus bootless kneel? - Has not
Brutus been refused, and shall any other be listened to? It is surprising that Dr. Johnson should have missed seeing this, and proposed to read “Do not, Brutus, bootless kneel.” That, however (which Johnson does not appear to have known), is also the reading of the Second Folio, -except, indeed, that the point of interrogation is, notwithstanding, still preserved.
314. - The only stage direction after this speech in the original edition is, “They stab Cæsar."
315. — Et tu, Brute. There is no ancient Latin authority, I believe, for this famous exclamation, although in Sue lus, i. 82, Cæsar is made to address Brutus Kai où, réxvov; (And thou too, my son ?). It may
have occurred as it stands here in the Latin play on the same subject which is recorded to have been acted at Oxford in 1582; and it is found in The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, first printed in 1595, on which the Third Part of King Henry the Sixth is founded, as also in a poem by S. Nicholson, entitled Acolastus his Afterwit, printed in 1600, in both of which nearly contemporary productions we have the same line — "Et tu, Brute? Wilt thou stab Cæsar too?” It may just be noticed, as the historical fact, that the meeting of the Senate at which Cæsar was assassinated was held, not, as is here assumed, in the Capitol, but in the Curia in which the statue of Pompey stood, being, as Plus tarch tells us, one of the edifices which Pompey had built, and had given, along with his famous Theatre, to the public. It adjoined the Theatre, which is spoken of (with the Portico surrounding it) in 130, 138, and 140. The mistake which we have here is found also in Hamlet, where (iii. 2) Hamlet questions Polonius about his histrionic performances