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Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
I tell you that, which you yourselves do know ; Show you sweet Cæsar's wounds, poor, poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: But were I Brutus,
1 CIT. We'll burn the house of Brutus.
3 CIT. Away then, come, seek the conspirators.
"Now, my good lord, let's see the devil's writ."
i. e. writing. Again, in Hamlet: " the law of writ and the liberty." The editor of the second folio, who altered whatever he did not understand, substituted wit for writ. Wit in our author's time had not its present signification, but meant understanding. Would Shakspeare make Antony declare himself void of common intelligence? MALONE.
The first folio (and, I believe, through a mistake of the press,) has-writ, which in the second folio was properly changed into -wit. Dr. Johnson, however, supposes that by writ was meant a "penned and premeditated oration."
But the artful speaker, on this sudden call for his exertions, was surely designed, with affected modesty, to represent himself as one who had neither wit, (i. e. strength of understanding) persuasive language, weight of character, graceful action, harmony of voice, &c. (the usual requisites of an orator) to influence the minds of the people. Was it necessary, therefore, that, on an occasion so precipitate, he should have urged that he had brought no written speech in his pocket? since every person who heard him must have been aware that the interval between the death of Cæsar, and the time present, would have been inadequate to such a composition, which indeed could not have been produced at all, unless, like the indictment of Lord Hastings in King Richard III. it had been got ready through a premonition of the event that would require it.
What is styled the devil's writ in King Henry VI. Part II. is the deposition of the dæmon, written down before witnesses on the stage. I therefore continue to read with the second folio, being unambitious of reviving the blunders of the first. STEEVENS.
ANT. Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me
CIT. Peace, ho! Hear Antony, most noble An
ANT. Why, friends, you go to do you know not what:
Wherein hath Cæsar thus deserv'd your loves?
CIT. Most true ;-the will;-let's stay, and hear the will.
ANT. Here is the will, and under Cæsar's seal. To every Roman citizen he gives,
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas 7. 2 CIT. Most noble Cæsar!-we'll revenge his death.
3 CIT. O royal Cæsar!
ANT. Hear me with patience.
Cir. Peace, ho!
ANT. Moreover, he hath left you all his walks, His private arbours, and new-planted orchards, On this side Tyber; he hath left them you,
seventy-five DRACHMAS.] A drachma was a Greek coin, the same as the Roman denier, of the value of four sesterces, 7d. ob. STEEvens.
8 On THIS side Tyber;] This scene is here in the Forum near the Capitol, and in the most frequented part of the city; but Cæsar's gardens were very remote from that quarter:
Trans Tiberim longe cubat is. prope Cæsaris hortos. says Horace and both the Naumachia and gardens of Cæsar were separated from the main city by the river; and lay out wide, on a line with Mount Janiculum. Our author therefore certainly
"On that side Tyber -;
and Plutarch, whom Shakspeare very diligently studied, in The Life of Marcus Brutus, speaking of Cæsar's will, expressly says, That he left to the publick his gardens, and walks, beyond the Tyber. THEOBald.
This emendation has been adopted by the subsequent editors; but hear the old translation, where Shakspeare's study lay: "He
And to your heirs for ever; common pleasures,
And with the brands fire the traitors' houses 9.
2 CIT. Go, fetch fire.
3 CIT. Pluck down benches.
4 CIT. Pluck down forms, windows, any thing. [Exeunt Citizens, with the Body. ANT. Now let it work: Mischief, thou art afoot, Take thou what course thou wilt!-How now, fellow?
Enter a Servant.
SERV. Sir, Octavius is already come to Rome.
SERV. He and Lepidus are at Cæsar's house.
SERV. I heard him say, Brutus and Cassius
bequeathed unto every citizen of Rome seventy-five drachmas a man, and he left his gardens and arbours unto the people, which he had on this side of the river Tiber." FARMER.
FIRE the traitors' houses.] Thus the old copy. The more modern editors read-"fire all the traitors' houses; " but fire was then pronounced, as it was sometimes written, fier. So, in Humors Ordinary, a Collection of Epigrams:
"Oh rare compound, a dying horse to choke,
"Of English fier and of Indian smoke!" STEEvens. By the expression the more modern editors," Mr. Steevens seems to have been willing to conceal that this was one of the many corruptions introduced by the editor of the second folio.
The Same. A Street.
Enter CINNA, the Poet.
CIN. I dreamt to-night, that I did feast with Cæsar 2
And things unluckily charge my fantasy 3:
I have no will to wander forth of doors 4,
Yet something leads me forth.
1 CIT. What is your name?
4 CIT. Are you a married man, or a bachelor? 2 CIT. Answer every man directly.
1 CIT. Ay, and briefly.
4 CIT. Ay, and wisely.
3 CIT. Ay, and truly, you were best.
CIN. What is my name? Whither am I going? Where do I dwell? Am I a married man, or a bachelor? Then to answer every man directly, and briefly, wisely, and truly. Wisely I say, I am a bachelor.
2 CIT. That's as much as to say, they are fools
1 Scene III.] The subject of this scene is taken from Plutarch. STEEVENS.
2 I dreamt to-night, that I did feast, &c.] I learn from an old black letter treatise on Fortune-telling, &c. that to dream "of being at banquets, betokeneth misfortune," &c./
things unluckily charge my fantasy :] i. e. circumstances oppress my fancy with an ill-omened weight. STEEVENS.
4 I have no will to wander forth of doors, &c.] Thus, Shylock:
"I have no mind of feasting forth to-night :
that marry:-You'll bear me a bang for that, I fear. Proceed; directly.
CIN. Directly, I am going to Cæsar's funeral. 1 CIT. As a friend, or an enemy?
CIN. As a friend.
2 CIT. That matter is answered directly.
CIN. Truly, my name is Cinna.
1 CIT. Tear him to pieces, he's a conspirator. CIN. I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet. 4 CIT. Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.
2 CIT. It is no matter, his name's Cinna; pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going. 3 CIT. Tear him, tear him. Come, brands, ho! fire-brands. To Brutus', to Cassius'; burn all. Some to Decius' house, and some to Casca's; some to Ligarius': away; go. [Exeunt.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
The Same. A Room in ANTONY'S House 5.
ANTONY, OCTAVIUS, and LEPIDUS, seated at a Table.
ANT. These many then shall die; their names are prick'd.
5 - ANTONY'S House.] Mr. Rowe, and Mr. Pope after him, have mark'd the scene here to be at Rome. The old copies say nothing of the place. Shakspeare, I dare say, knew from Plutarch, that these triumvirs met, upon the proscription, in a little