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5'Would he were fatter: ] Jonson, in his Bar. tholomew Fair, unjustly sneers at this passage, in Knockham's speech to the Pig-woman. Come, there's no malice in fat folks ; I never fear thee, and I can 'scape thy lean moon-calf there.
-a man of any occupation,] Had I been a mechanick, one of the plebeians to whom he offered his throat.
JOHNSON ? He should not humour me.] This is a reflection on Brutus's ingratitude; which concludes, as is usual on such occasions, in an encomium on his own better conditions. If I were Brutus (says he), and Brutus, Cassius, he should not cajole me as I do him. To humour signifies here to turn and wind him, by inflaming his passions. The Oxford Editor alters the last line to
Cæsar should not love me.
WARBURTON. The meaning, I think, is this, Cæsar loves Brutus, but if Brutus and I were to change places, 'his lote should not humour me, should not take hold of my affection, so as to make me forget my principles.
JOHNSON -thewes and limbs-] Thewes is an old obsolete word implying nerves or músculur strength. The word is used by Falstaff in the Second Part of Hen. IV. and in Hamlet,
“ For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
-Hold my hand:] Is the 'same as, Here's my hand.
10 Be factious for redress-] Factious seem's 'here to mean active.
" Remorse from power:] Remorse, 'for mercy.
Remorse (says the Author of the Revisal) signifies the conscious uneasiness arising from a sense of having done wrong; to extinguish which feeling, nothing hath so great a tendency as absolute uncontrouled power.
12 For if thou path, thy native semblance on,] If thou "walk in thy true form.
JOHNSON. -main opinion-] Is leading, fixed, predominant opinion. 14 That unicorns may be betray'd with trees,
And bears with glasses, elephants with holes.] Unicorns are said to have been taken by one who, running behind a tree, eluded the violent push the animal was making at him, so that his horn spent its force on the trunk, and stuck fast, detaining the beast till he was dispatched by the hunter. Bears are reported to have been surprised by means of a mirror, which they would gaze on, affording their pursuers an opportunity ‘of taking the surer 'aim. This circumstance, I think, is mentioned by Claudian. Elephants were seduced into pitfalls, lightly covered with hurdles and turf, 'on which a proper bait to tempt them was exposed.
15 To keep with you at meals, &c.] “I being, O Bru
“ tus, (sayed she) the daughter of Cato, was married “ vnto thee, not to be thy beddefellowe and compa“nion in bedde and at borde onelie, like a harlot : “ but to be partaker also with thee, of thy good and “euill fortune. Nowe for thyselfe, I can finde no
cause of faulte in thee touchinge our matche: but “ for my parte, howe inay I showe my
duetie towardes " thee, and howe muche I woulde doe for thy sake, “ if I can not constantlie beare a secret mischaunce “ or griefe with thee, which requireth secrecy and “ fidelity? I confesse, that a womans wit commonly “ is too weake to keepe a secret safely : but yet, “ Brutus, good education, and the companie of “ vertuous men, haue some power to reforme the “ defect of nature. And for my selfe, I haue this “ benefit moreouer: that I am the daughter of Cato,
and wife of Brutus. This notwithstanding, I did “ not trust to any of these things before: vntill that “ now I baue found by experience, that no paine
nor griefe whatsoeuer can ouercome me. With $r those wordes she shewed him her wounde on her “ thigh, and tolde him what she had done to proue her selfe.”
Sir Tho. North's Translat. of Plutarch. 18 comfort your bed,] “is but an odd phrase, “ and gives as odd an idea,” says Mr. Theobald. He therefore substitutes, consort. But this good old word, however disused through modern refinement, was not so discarded by Shakspeare. Henry VIII. as we read in Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, in commendation of queen Katharine, in public said, “She
“ hath beene to me a true obedient wife, and as-con“fortable as I could wish.”
UPTON. Cæsar, I never stood on ceremonies,] i. e. I never paid a ceremonious regard to prodigies or omens.
The adjective is used in the same sense in the Devil's Charter, 1607.
“ The devil hath provided in his covenant,
time:“ I never was so ceremonious." STEEVENS.
-and that great men shall press For tinctures, stains, relicks, and cognizance.] That this dream of the statue's spouting blood should signify, the increase of power and empire to Rome from the influence of Cæsar's arts and arms, and wealth and honour to the noble Romans through his beneficence, expressed by the words, From you great Rome shall suck reviving blood, is intelligible enough. But how these great men should literally press for tinctures, stains, relicks, and eognizance, when the spouting blood was only a symbolical vision, I am at a loss to apprehend. Here the circumstances of the dream, and the interpretation of it, are confounded with one another. This line therefore,
For tinctures, stains, relicks, and cognisance, must needs be in way of similitude only; and if so, it appears that some lines are wanting between this and the preceding; which want should, for the future, be marked with asterisks. The sense of them is not difficult to recover, and, with it, the propriety of the line in question. The speaker had said, the statue signified, that by Cæsar's influence Rome should flourish and increase in empire, and that great men should press to him to partake of his good fortune, just as men run with handkerchiefs, &c. to dip them in the blood of martyrs, that they may partake of their merit. It is true, the thought is from the Christian history; but so small an anachronism is nothing with our poet. Besides, it is not my interpretation which introduces it, it was there before: for the line in question can bear no other sense than as an allusion to the blood of the martyrs, and the superstition of some churches with regard to it.
I am not of opinion that any thing is lost, and have therefore marked no omission.
This speech, which is intentionally pompous, is somewhat confused. There are two allusions; one to coats armorial, to which princes make additions, or give new tinctures and new marks of cognizance; the other to martyrs, whose reliques are preserved with veneration.
The Romans, says Brutus, all come to you as to a saint, for reliques, as to a prince, for, honours.
JOHNSON. ; 19 He is address'd :] i. e. ready.
20 And turn pre-ordinance,] Ordinance already established.
21 -Stoop, Romans, stoop, &c.] In all the editions this speech is ascribed to Brutus, than which nothing is more inconsistent with his mild and philosophical character. But (as I often find speeches in the later