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Ocz. Your brother too must die; Consent you,
LEP. I do consent. Ост. Prick him down, Antony. LEP. Upon condition Publius shall not live", Who is your sister's son, Mark Antony.
island which Appian, who is more particular, says, lay near Mutina, upon the river Lavinius. THEOBALD.
A small island in the little river Rhenus near Bononia.
So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "Thereuppon all three met together (to wete, Cæsar, Antonius, & Lepidus,) in an island enuyroned round about with a little river, & there remayned three dayes together. Now as touching all other matters, they were easily agreed, & did deuide all the empire of Rome betwene them, as if it had bene their owne inheritance. But yet they could hardly agree whom they would put to death: for euery one of them would kill their enemies, and saue their kinsmen and friends. Yet at length, giving place to their greedy desire to be reuenged of their enemies, they spurned all reuerence of blood and holines of friendship at their feete. For Cæsar left Cicero to Antonius' will, Antonius also forsooke Lucius Cæsar, who was his vncle by his mother: and both of them together suffred Lepidus to kill his own brother Paulus." That Shakspeare, however, meant the scene to be at Rome, may be inferred [as Mr. Jennens has observed,] from what almost immediately follows:
Lep. What, shall I find you here?
"Oct. Or here, or at the Capitol." STEEVENS. The passage quoted by Steevens, clearly proves that the scene should be leid in Rome. M. MASON.
It is manifest that Shakspeare intended the scene to be at Rome, and therefore I have placed it in Antony's house.
Upon condition Publius shall not live,] Mr. Upton has sufficiently proved that the poet made a mistake as to this character mentioned by Lepidus; Lucius, not Publius, was the person meant, who was uncle by the mother's side to Mark Antony: and in consequence of this, he concludes that Shakspeare wrote: "You are his sister's son, Mark Antony."
The mistake, however, is more like the mistake of the author than of his transcriber or printer. STEEVENS.
ANT. He shall not live; look, with a spot I damn him..
But, Lepidus, go you to Cæsar's house;
[Exit LEPIDUS. ANT. This is a slight unmeritable man, Meet to be sent on errands: Is it fit, The three-fold world divided, he should stand One of the three to share it?
Ост. So you thought him; And took his voice who should be prick'd to die, In our black sentence and proscription.
ANT. Octavius, I have seen more days than you: And though we lay these honours on this man, To ease ourselves of divers slanderous loads, He shall but bear them as the ass bears gold, To groan and sweat under the business, Either led or driven, as we point the way; And having brought our treasure where we will, Then take we down his load, and turn him off, Like to the empty ass, to shake his ears, And graze in commons.
You may do your
7 DAMN him.] i. e. condemn him. So, in Promos and Cassandra, 1578:
"Vouchsafe to give my damned husband life.”
Again, in Chaucer's Knightes Tale, v. 1747, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit.:
by your confession
"Hath damned you, and I wol it recorde." STEEVens.
as the ass bears gold,] This image had occurred before in Measure for Measure, Act III. Sc. I. vol. ix.
like an ass whose back with ingots bows,
But he's a tried and valiant soldier.
ANT. So is my horse, Octavius; and, for that,
9 - one that feeds
On OBJECTS, ARTS, and imitations; &c.]('Tis hard to conceive why he should be called a barren-spirited fellow that could feed either on objects or arts: that is, as I presume, form his ideas and judgment upon them: stale and obsolete imitation, indeed, fixes such a character. I am persuaded, to make the poet consonant to himself, we must read, as I have restored the text:
"On abject orts."
i. e. on the scraps and fragments of things rejected and despised by others. /THEOBALD.
Sure, it is easy enough to find a reason why that devotee to pleasure and ambition, Antony, should call him barren-spirited who could be content to feed his mind with objects, i. e. speculative knowledge, or arts, i. e. mechanick operations. I have therefore brought back the old reading, though Mr. Theobald's emendation is still left before the reader. Lepidus, in the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, is represented as inquisitive about the structures of Egypt, and that too when he is almost in a state of intoxication. Antony, as at present, makes a jest of him, and returns him unintelligible answers to very reasonable questions.
Objects, however, may mean things objected or thrown out to him. In this sense Shakspeare uses the verb to object, in King Henry V. Part II. where I have given an instance of its being employed by Chapman on the same occasion. It is also used by him, in his version of the seventh Iliad :
"At Jove's broad beech these godheads met; and first Jove's
'Why, burning in contention thus," &c.
A man who can avail himself of neglected hints thrown out by others, though without original ideas of his own, is no uncommon character. STEEVENS.
Objects means, in Shakspeare's language, whatever is presented to the eye. So, in Timon of Athens-" Swear against objects,”
Which, out of use, and stal'd by other men,
Our best friends made, our means stretch'd to the
which Mr. Steevens has well illustrated by a line in our poet's 152d Sonnet:
"And made them swear against the thing they see." MALONE.
and stal'd by other men,
Begin his fashion :] Shakspeare has already woven this circumstance into the character of Justice Shallow: He came ever in the rearward of the fashion; and sung those tunes that he heard the carmen whistle." STEEVENS.
a PROPERTY.] i. e. as a thing quite at our disposal, and to be treated as we please. So, in Twelfth-Night:
"They have here propertied me, kept me in darkness," &c. STEEVENS.
3 Our best friends made, our means stretch'd TO THE UTMOST ;] In the old copy, by the carelessness of the transcriber or printer, this line is thus imperfectly exhibited:
"Our best friends made, our means stretch'd;" The editor of the second folio supplied the line by reading"Our best friends made, and our best means stretch'd out." This emendation, which all the modern editors have adopted, was, like almost all the other corrections of the second folio, as ill conceived as possible. For what is best means? Means, or abilities, if stretched out, receive no additional strength from the word best, nor does means, when considered without reference to others, as the power of an individual, or the aggregated abilities of a body of men, seem to admit of a degree of comparison. However that may be, it is highly improbable that a transcriber or compositor should be guilty of three errors in the same line; that he should omit the word and in the middle of it, then the word best after our, and lastly the concluding word. It is much more probable that the omission was only at the end of the line, (an error which is found in other places in these plays,) and that the author wrote, as I have printed :
"Our best friends made, our means stretch'd to the utmost.” So, in a former scene :
And let us presently go sit in council,
OCT. Let us do so: for we are at the stake*,
And some, that smile, have in their hearts, I fear, Millions of mischiefs.
Before BRUTUS' Tent, in the Camp near Sardis.
Drum. Enter BRUTUS, LUCILIUS, LUCIUS, and Soldiers: TITINIUS and PINDARUS meeting them. BRU. Stand, ho!
Luc. Give the word, ho! and stand.
BRU. What now, Lucilius? is Cassius near? Luc. He is at hand; and Pindarus is come To do you salutation from his master.
[PINDARUS gives a Letter to BRUTUS. BRU. He greets me well.-Your master, Pinda
and, you know, his means,
"If he improve them, may well stretch so far." Again, in the following passage in Coriolanus, which, I trust, will justify the emendation now made;
for thy revenge
"Wrench up your power to the highest."
I am satisfied with the reading of the second folio, in which I perceive neither aukwardness nor want of perspicuity. Best is a word of mere enforcement, and is frequently introduced by Shakspeare. Thus, in King Henry VIII. :
"My life itself and the best heart of it———.”
Why does best, in this instance, seem more significant than when it is applied to means? STEEVENS.
4 at the STAKE,] An allusion to bear-bating. So, in Macbeth, Act V. Sc. VII. vol. xi. p. 268:
("They have chain'd me to a stake, I cannot fly,
"But bear-like I must fight the course." STEEVENS.