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Cas. And leave us, Publius; lest that the people, Rushing on us, should do your age some mischief. Bru. Do so;-and let no man abide this deed, But we the doers.
Cas. Where's Antony? Tre. Fled to his house amaz'd': Men, wives, and children, stare, cry out, and run, As it were doomsday.
Bru. Fates! we will know your pleasures:That we shall die, we know; 'tis but the time, And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
Cas. Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life,
Bru. Grant that, and then is death a benefit:
Cas. Stoop then, and wash.1-How many ages hence, Shall this our lofty scene be acted over,
In states unborn,2 and accents yet unknown?
7 Nor to no Roman else:] This use of two negatives, not to make an affirmative, but to deny more strongly, is common to Chaucer, Spenser, and other of our ancient writers. Dr. Hickes observes, that in the Saxon, even four negatives are sometimes conjoined, and still preserve a negative signification. Steevens.
8 Cas.] Both the folios give this speech to Casca. Reed.
9 ·Stoop, Romans, stoop,] Plutarch, in The Life of Cæsar, says, "Brutus and his followers, being yet hot with the murder, marched in a body from the senate-house to the Capitol, with their drawn swords, with an air of confidence and assurance. "And in The Life of Brutus: -"Brutus and his party betook themselves to the Capitol, and in their way, showing their hands all bloody, and their naked swords, proclaimed liberty to the people." Theobald.
1 Stoop then, and wash.] To wash does not mean here to cleanse, but to wash over, as we say, washed with gold; for Cassius means that they should steep their hands in the blood of Cæsar. M. Mason.
2 In states unborn,] The first folio has-state; very properly corrected in the second folio-states. Mr. Malone admits the first of these readings, which he thus explains-In theatrick pomp yet undisplayed.
Bru. How many times shall Cæsar bleed in sport, That now on Pompey's basis lies along,
No worthier than the dust?
So oft as that shall be,3
So often shall the knot of us be call'd
Enter a Servant.
Bru. Soft, who comes here? A friend of Antony's.
Say, I fear'd Cæsar, honour'd him, and lov'd him,
Tell him, so please him come unto this place,
I'll fetch him presently. [Exit Serv. Bru. I know, that we shall have him well to friend. Cas. I wish, we may: but yet have I a mind,
But surely, by unborn states, our author must have meant-communities which as yet have no existence. Steevens.
3 So oft as that shall be.] The words-shall be, which render this verse too long by a foot, may be justly considered as interpolations, the sense of the passage being obvious without a supplement. As oft as that, in elliptical phrase, will signify-as oft as that shall happen. There are too many instances of similar ellipsis destroyed by the player editors, at the expense of metre. Steevens.
That fears him much; and my misgiving still
Bru. But here comes Antony.-Welcome, Mark An
Ant. O mighty Cæsar! Dost thou lie so low?
As Cæsar's death's hour; nor no instrument
Of half that worth, as those your swords, made rich
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
I shall not find myself so apt to die:
No place will please me so, no mean of death,
who else is rank:] Who else may be supposed to have overtopped his equals, and grown too high for the public safety. Johnson. I rather believe the meaning is, who else is too replete with blood? So, in our author's Venus and Adonis:
"Rain added to a river that is rank,
"Perforce will force it overflow the bank."
See Vol. VII, p. 411, n. 1. Malone.
In The Tempest we have
661 whom to trash
I conceive Dr. Johnson's explanation therefore to be the true one The epithet rank is employed, on a similar occasion in King Henry VIII:
"Ha! what, so rank?”
and without allusion to a plethora. Steevens.
Hath done this deed on Cæsar. For your part,
To you our swords have leaden points, Mark Antony:
With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.
Bru. Only be patient, till we have appeas'd
Why I, that did love Cæsar when I struck him,
I doubt not of your wisdom.
First, Marcus Brutus, will I shake with you;-
Now, Decius Brutus, yours ;-now yours, Metellus; Yours, Cinna ;-and, my valiant Casca, yours;Though last, not least in love,' yours, good Trebonius.
5 As fire drives out fire, &c.] So, in Coriolanus:
"One fire drives out one fire; one nail one nail." Malone. Again, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
"Even as one heat another heat expels,
"Or as one nail by strength drives out another." Steevens.
• Our arms in strength of malice,] Thus the old copies:
To you (says Brutus) our swords have leaden points: our arms, strong in the deed of malice they have just performed, and our hearts united like those of brothers in the action, are yet open to receive you with all possible regard. The supposition that Brutus meant, their hearts were of brothers' temper in respect of Antony, seems to have misled those who have commented on this passage before. For-in strength of, Mr. Pope substituted-exempt from; and was too hastily followed by other editors. If alteration were necessary, it would be easier to read: Our arms no strength of malice, Steevens. One of the phrases in this passage, which Mr. Steevens has so happily explained, occurs again in Antony and Cleopatra: "To make you brothers, and to knit your hearts, "With an unslipping knot."
"The heart of brothers governs in our love!"
The counterpart of the other phrase is found in the same play: "I'll wrestle with you in my strength of love."
7 Though last, not least in love,] So, in King Lear:
Although the last, not least in our dear love."
The same expression occurs more than once in plays exhibited before the time of Shakspeare. Malone.
Gentlemen all,-alas! what shall I say?
My credit now stands on such slippery ground,
That I did love thee, Cæsar, O, 'tis true :
Shall it not grieve thee, dearer than thy death,
In terms of friendship with thine enemies.
Pardon me, Julius!-Here wast thou bay'd, brave hart;
O world! thou wast the forest to this hart;
Cas. Mark Antony,
Pardon me, Caius Cassius:
The enemies of Cæsar shall say this;
Cas. I blame you not for praising Cæsar so;
Ant. Therefore I took your hands; but was, indeed, Sway'd from the point, by looking down on Cæsar. Friends am I with you all, and love you all;
8 crimson'd in thy lethe.] Lethe is used by many of the old translators of novels, for death; and in Heywood's Iron Age, P. II, 1632:
"The proudest nation that great Asia nurs❜d,
"Is now extinct in lethe."
Again, in Cupid's Whirligigg, 1616:
"For vengeance' wings brings on thy lethal day."
Dr. Farmer observes, that we meet with lethal for deadly in the information for Mungo Campbell. Steevens.
9 Friends am I with you all, &c.] This grammatical impropriety is still so prevalent, as that the omission of the anomalous S, would give some uncouthness to the sound of an otherwise familiar expression. Henley.