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rather say, Be quick. Prevention is hinderance by something happening before that which is hindered.
295. Cassius on Cæsar never shall turn back. The reading of all the old copies is" or Cæsar," and it is retained by most or all of the modern editors. It is interpreted by Ritson as meaning “Either Cæsar or I shall never return alive." But to turn back cannot mean to return alive, or to return in any way. The most it could mean would be to make a movement towards returning; which is so far from being the same thing with the accomplished return which this translation would have it to imply that it may almost be said to be the very opposite. Besides, even if to turn back could mean here to leave or get away from the Capitol alive, although Cassius, by plunging his dagger into his own heart, would indeed have prevented himself from so escaping, how was that act to bring with it any similar risk to Cæsar? I will slay myself, Cassius is supposed to say, whereby either I shall lose my life or Cæsar will his. The emendation of " or Cæsar” into 66
on Cæsar" was proposed and is strongly supported by Malone, although he did not venture to introduce it into his text. [White adopts it.] We have probably the opposite misprint of on for or in the speech of Paulina in the concluding scene of The Winter's Tale, where the old copies give us,
Then, all stand still :
I am about, let them depart, – although Mr. Knight adheres to the on and the point. [White has or.]
296. Cassius, be constant. - See 262. 296. Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes.
Although this verse has twelve syllables, it is not for that an Alexandrine. Its rhythm is the same as if the last word had been merely the dissyllable purpose, or even a monosyllable, such as act or deed. It is completed by the strong syllable pur- in the tenth place, and the two unaccented syllables that follow have no prosodical effect. Of course, there is also an oratorical emphasis on our, although standing in one of those places which do not require an accented syllable, but which it is a mistake to suppose incapable of admitting such.
296. Cæsar doth not change. — In his manner of looking, or the expression of his countenance.
297. The stage direction attached to this speech is modern.
299. He is addressed. — To dress is the same word with to direct. Immediately from the French dresser, it is ultimately from the Latin dirigere, and its literal meaning, therefore, is, to make right or straight. Formerly, accordingly, anything was said to be dressed or addressed when it was in complete order for the purpose tò which it was to be applied. Thus, in 2 Henry IV. iv. 4, the King says, “ Our navy is addressed, our power collected;
" and in A Midsummer Night's Dream, v. 1, Philostrate, the Master of the Revels, makes his official announcement to Theseus thus: “So please your Grace, the prologue is addressed.” So He is addressed in the present passage means merely He is ready, The primary sense of the word is still retained in such phrases as To dress the ranks; and it is not far departed from in such as To dress cloth or leather, To dress a wound, To dress meat. The notion of decoration or embellishment which we commonly associate with dressing does not enter fully even into the expression To dress the hair. In To redress, meaning to set to rights again that which has gone wrong, to make that which was crooked once more straight, we have the simple etymological or radical import of the word completely preserved. To redress is to re-rectify.
The following are some examples of the employment of the word addressed by writers of the latter part of the seventeenth century: “When Middleton came to the King in Paris, he brought with him a little Scotish vicar, who was known to the King, one Mr. Knox. ... He said he was addressed from Scotland to the Lords in the Tower, who did not then know that Middleton had arrived in safety with the King;” etc. - Clarendon, History, Book xiii. “ Thereupon they [the King's friends in England] sent Harry Seymour, who, being of his Majesty's bedchamber, and having his leave to attend his own affairs in England, they well knew would be believed by the King, and, being addressed only to the Marquis of Ormond and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he might have opportunity to speak with the King privately and undiscovered;" etc. — Id. Book xiv. Though the messengers who were sent were addressed only to the King himself and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer ; ” etc. — Ibid. “ Two gentlemen of Kent came to Windsor the morning after the Prince [of Orange] came thither. They were addressed to me. And they told me; ”etc. Burnet, Own Times, i. 799.
300. You are the first that rears your hand. — In strict grammar, perhaps, it should be either “rears
rear your; ” but the business of an editor of Shakespeare is not to make for us in all cases perfect grammar, but to give us what his author in
all probability wrote. A writer's grammatical irregularities are as much part of his style, and therefore of his mind and of himself, as any other characteristic.
301. Casca. Are we all ready? 302. Cæs. What is now amiss, etc. - - There can, I think, be no doubt that Mr. Collier's MS. annotator has here again given us the true reading, and a valuable restoration. [Dyce, Hudson, and White adopt it.] What Casca could possibly mean by exclaiming, “What is now amiss, That Cæsar and his Senate must redress?” is nearly inconceivable. The question is plainly suitable to Cæsar only, to the person presiding; the proceedings could never have been so opened by any mere member of the Senate. And the absurdity of supposing it to have been spoken by Casca becomes still stronger when we have to consider it as a natural sequence of the "Are we all ready?” which immediately precedes. Even if any one of the conspirators was likely to have made such a display, it was hardly Casca.
303. Most puissant Cæsar. - Puissant, and the substantive form puissance, are, I believe, always dissyllables in Milton; with Shakespeare they generally are so (as here), but not always. Thus in King John, iii. 1, the King says to the Bastard,
Cousin, go draw our puissance together. Walker, however, is mistaken in producing the line,
Either past, or not arrived to pith and puissance (from the Chorus before the Third Act of King Henry the Fifth) as necessarily to be read with the trisyllabic division of the word. It is not even probable that it ought to be so read, - barely possible. In Spenser too we have occasionally this
- the nar
pronunciation; as in F. 2. v. 2. 7, “For that he is so puissant and strong;” and again in stanza 17, “ His puissance, ne bear himself upright.”
304. These crouchings. - This is the correction (for the couchings of the old printed copies) of Mr. Collier's MS. annotator. Surely it does not admit of a doubt. [Hudson and White have couchings, and below low-crooked. The former quotes Richardson, who gives “to lower, to stoop, to bend down,” as meanings of to couch; while the latter refers to Singer's citations from Huloet: “Cowche, like a dogge; procumbo, prosterno," "crooke-backed or crowche-backed.”]
304. And turn pre-ordinance, etc. — The reading of the old text here is “ into the lane of children.” Malone actually attempts an explanation of "the lane of children ; he says it may mean row conceits of children, which must change as their minds grow more enlarged”! The prostration of the human understanding before what it has got to hold as authority can hardly be conceived to go beyond this. Johnson conjectured that lane might be a misprint for law; and Mr. Collier's MS. annotator, it appears, makes the same emendation. [It is adopted by Dyce, Hudson, and White.) The new reading may still be thought not to be perfectly satisfactory; but at least it is not utter nonsense, like the other. In a passage which has evidently suffered some injury, we may perhaps be allowed to suspect that " first decree” should be “ fixed decree.” The word would be spelled fixt, as it is immediately afterwards in 309.
304. Be not fond, etc. The sense in which fond is used here (that of foolish) appears to be the original one; so that when tenderness of affection was