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Set in a note-book, learn’d, and conn'd by rote,
Sheath your dagger :
Hath Cassius liv'd
Bru. When I spoke that, I was ill-temper’d too.
O Brutus! -
What's the matter? Cas. Have you not love enough to bear with me, When that rash humour, which my mother gave me, Makes me forgetful? Bru.
Yes, Cassius; and, henceforth, When you are over-earnest with your
Brutus, He'll think your mother chides, and leave you so.
[Voise within. 9 If that thou be'st a Roman, take it forth ;] I think he means only, that he is so far from avarice, when the cause of his country requires liberality, that if any man should wish for his heart, he would not need enforce his desire any otherwise, than by showing that he was a Roman. Fohnson. This seems only a form of adjuration like that of Brutus, p. 99:
“ Now, as you are a Roman, tell me true.” Blackstone.
and, henceforth,] Old copy, redundantly in respect both of sense and measure :-"and froin hencefirth.” But the present omission is countenanced by many passages in our author, besides the fol. lowing in Macbeth:
Thanes and kinsmen,
Poet. [within] Let me go in to see the generals ;
Luc. [within] You shall not come to them.
Poet. For shame, you generals; What do you mean?
Cas. Ha, ha; how vilely doth this cynick rhyme!
Bru. I'll know his humour, when he knows his time : What should the wars do with these jigging fools ?5
chides,] i. e. is clamorous, scolds. So, in As you Like it:
“ For what had he to do to chide at me?” Steevens. s Enter Poet.] Shakspeare found the present incident in Plutarch. The intruder, however, was Marcus Phaonius, who had been a friend and follower of Cato; not a poet, but one who assumed the character of a cynick philosopher. Steevens. 4 Love, and be friends, as two such men should be ;
For I have seen more years, I am sure, than ye.) This passage is a translation from the following one in the first Book of Homer:
«'Αλλα πίθεσθ'. "αμφω δε νεωτέρω έσον εμειο.” which is thus given in Sir Thomas North's Plutarch:
“ My lords, I pray you hearken both to me,
« For I have seen more years than such ye three." See also Antony's speech, p. 85:
“ Octavius, I have seen more days than you." Again, in Chapman's Iliad, Book IX: “Iam his greater, being a king, and more in yeares than he."
Steevens. 5 What should the wars do with these jigging fools ?] i. e. with these sily poets. A jig signified, in our author's time, a metrical composition, as well as a dauce. So, in the prologue to Fletcher's Fair Maid of the Inn :
“ A jig shall be clapp'd at, and every rhyme
“ Prais’d and applauded by a clamorous chiine." [See note on Hamlet, Aci III, sc. ii.]
À modern editor, (Mr. Capell) who, after having devoted the greater part of his life to the s'udy of old books, appears to have been extremely ignorant of ancient English literature, not knowing this, for jigging, reads (after Mr. Pope) jingling. His work exhibit above Nine Hundred alterations of the genuine text, equally capricious and unwarrantable.
Away, away, be gone. (Exit Poet.
Cas. And come yourselves, and bring Messala with you Immediately to us.
[Exeunt Luc. and Tit. Bru.
Lucius, a bowl of wine.
Bru. No man bears sorrow better :--Portia is dead.
Cas. How scap'd I killing, when I cross'd you so?
Impatient of my absence;
This editor, of whom it was justly said by the late Bishop of Glocester, that she had hung himself in chains over our poet's grave,” having boasted in his preface, that “his emendations of the text were at least equal in number to those of all the othereditors and commentators put together.” I some years ago had the curiosity to look into his volumes with this particular view. Onexamination Iihen found, that, of three hundred and twenty-five emendations of the ancient copies, which, as I then thought, he had properly received into his text, two hundred and eighty-five were suggested by some former editor or commentator, and forty only by himself. But on a second and mere rigorous examination I now find, that of the emendations properly adopted, (the number of which appears to be much smaller than that above mentioned) he has a claim to not more than fifteen. The innovations and arbitrary alterations, either adapted from others, or first introduced by this editor, from ignorance of our ancient custoins and phraseclogy, amount to no less a number than NINE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO!! It is highly probable that many yet have es. caped my notice. Malone
6 Companion, hence ] Companion is used as a term of reproach in many of the old plays; as we say at present-fellow. So, in King Henry IV, P. II, Dol Tearsheet says to Pistol:
I scorn you, scurvy companion,” &c. Stectens.
Cas. And died so ?8 · Bru. Even so. Cas. O ye immortal gods!
Enter Lucius, with Wine and Tapers. Bru. Speak no more of her.-Give me a bowl of
wine: In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius. Drinks.
Cas. My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge:Fill, Lucius, till the wine o'er-swell the cup; I cannot drink too much of Brutus' love. [Drinks.
Re-enter TITINIUS, with MESSALA. Bru. Come in, Titinius :- Welcome, good Messala.-
7 And, her attendants absent, swallow'd fire.] This circumstance is taken from Plutarch. It is also mentioned by Val. Maximus.
It cannot, however, be amiss to remark, that the death of Portia may want that foundation which has hitherto entitled her to a place in poetry, as a pattern of Roman fortitude. She is reported, by Pliny, I think, to have died at Rome of a lingering illness while Brutus was abroad; but some writers seem to look on a natural death as a derogation from a distinguished character. Steevens.
Valerius Maximus says that Portia survived Brutus, and killed herself on hearing that her husband was defeated and slain at Philippi. Plutarch's account in The Life of Brutus is as follows: “ And for Portia, Brutus' wife, Nicolaus the philosopher, and Valerius Maximus, doe wryte, that she determining to kill her selfe, (her parents and friends carefullie looking to her to kepe her from it) tooke hotte burning coles, and cast them into her mouth, and kept her mouth so close, that she choked her selfe.-There was a letter of Brutus found, wrytten to his frendes, complaining of their negligence; that his wife being sicke, they would not helpe her, but suffered her to kill her selfe, choosing to dye rather than to languish in paine. Thus it appeareth that Nicolaus knew not well that time, sith the letter (at least if it were Brutus' letter) doth plainly declare the disease and love of this lady, and the manner of her death.” North's Translation.
See also Martial, L. I, ep. 42, Valerius Maximus, and Nicolaus, and Plutarch, all agree in saying that she put an end to her life; and the letter, if authentick, ascertains that she did so in the life-time of Brutus.
Our author, therefore, we see, had sufficient authority for his representation. Malone.
8 And died so ? &c.] I suppose, these three short speeches were meant to form a single verse, and originally stood as follows:
Cas. And died so?
Immortal gods! The tragick Ahs and Ohs interpolated by the players, are too fre. quently permitted to derange our author's measure. Steevens.
Now sit we close about this taper here,
Cas. Portia! art thou gone?
No more, I pray you
Mes. Myself have letters of the self-same tenour.
Mes. That by proscription, and bills of outlawry,
Bru. Therein our letters do not well agree;
Ay, Cicero is dead,
Bru. No, Messala.
That, methinks, is strange.
Mes. Then like a Roman bear the truth I tell: For certain she is dead, and by strange manner.
Bru, Why, farewel, Portia.-We must die, Messala: With meditating that she must die once, I have the patience to endure it now.
Mes. Even so great men great losses should endure.
Cas. I have as much of this in arta as you, But yet my nature could not bear it so.
9 Ay, Cicero is dead,] For the insertion of the affirmative adverb, to complete the verse, I am answerable. Steevens.
once,] i.e. at some time or other. So, in The Merry Wives of IVindsor :
pray, thee once to-night “ Give my sweet Nan this ring." See Vol. III, p. 109, n. 3. Steevens.
in art -] That is, in theory. Malone.