Imatges de pÓgina

And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the

suburbs 3

Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife.

Brʊ. You are my true and honourable wife;
As dear to me, as are the ruddy drops

That visit my sad heart*.

wordes she showed him her wounde on her thigh, and tolde him what she had done to proue her selfe." Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch. STEEVENS.

Here also we find our author and Lord Sterline walking over the same ground :


"I was not, Brutus, match'd with thee, to be
"A partner only of thy board and bed;
"Each servile whore in those might equal me,


That did herself to nought but pleasure wed. “No;-Portia spous'd thee with a mind t' abide Thy fellow in all fortunes, good or ill;


"With chains of mutual love together ty'd,

"As those that have two breasts, one heart, two souls, one will." Julius Cæsar, 1607. MALONE. 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 publick said: "She hathe beene to me a true obedient wife, and as comfortable as I could wish." UPTON.

In the book of entries at Stationers' Hall, I meet with the following, 1598: “ A Conversation between a careful Wyfe and her comfortable Husband." STEEVENS.

In our marriage ceremony, the husband promises to comfort his wife; and Barrett's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, says, that "to comfort" is, 'to recreate, to solace, to make pastime.' COLLINS.

3in the SUBURBS] Perhaps here is an allusion to the place in which the harlots of Shakspeare's age resided. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Monsieur Thomas :

"Get a new mistress,


Some suburb saint, that sixpence, and some oaths, "Will draw to parley." STEEVEns.

4 As dear to me, &c.] These glowing words have been adopted by Mr. Gray in his celebrated Ode:

"Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart—.”


POR. If this were true, then should I know this


I grant, I am a woman 5; but, withal,
A woman that lord Brutus took to wife :
I grant, I am a woman; but, withal,
A woman well-reputed; Cato's daughter".
Think you, I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father'd, and so husbanded?

Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose them:
I have made strong proof of my constancy,
Giving myself a voluntary wound

Here, in the thigh: Can I bear that with patience, And not my husband's secrets?


O ye gods,

Render me worthy of this noble wife !

[Knocking within.
Hark, hark! one knocks: Portia, go in a while;
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.

All my engagements I will construe to thee,
All the charactery of my sad brows:-
Leave me with haste.


5 I grant, I am a woman; &c.] So, Lord Sterline : "And though our sex too talkative be deem'd,

"As those whose tongues import our greatest pow'rs, "For secrets still bad treasurers esteem'd,

"Of others' greedy, prodigal of ours;

"Good education may reform defects,

"And I this vantage have to a vertuous life, "Which others' minds do want and mine respects, "I'm Cato's daughter, and I'm Brutus' wife." MALONE.

6 A woman well-reputed; Cato's daughter.] By the expression well-reputed, she refers to the estimation in which she was held, as being the wife of Brutus; whilst the addition of Cato's daughter, implies that she might be expected to inherit the patriotic virtues of her father. It is with propriety therefore, that she immediately asks:

"Think you, I am no stronger than my sex,

"Being so father'd, and so husbanded?" HENLEY.


Lucius, who is that, knocks? Luc. Here is a sick man, that would speak with


BRU. Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of.Boy, stand aside.-Caius Ligarius! how?

LIC. Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.

BRU. O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,

To wear a kerchief' ? 'Would you were not sick!

7 All the CHARACTERY —] i. e. "all that is character'd on," &c. The word has already occurred in The Merry Wives of Windsor. STEEVENS.

See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note, vol. ix. p. 180, n. 8. MALone.

8 who is that, knocks?] i. e. who is that, who knocks? Our poet always prefers the familiar language of conversation to grammatical nicety. Four of his editors, however, have endeavoured to destroy this peculiarity, by reading—" who's there that knocks?" and a fifth has, "who's that, that knocks?"

9 O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,

To wear a kerchief?] So, in Plutarch's Life of Brutus, translated by North: " - Brutus went to see him being sicke in his bedde, and sayed unto him, O Ligarius, in what a time art thou sicke? Ligarius rising up in his bedde, and taking him by the right hande, sayed unto him, Brutus, (sayed he,) if thou hast any great enterprise in hande worthie of thy selfe, I am whole." Lord Sterline also has introduced this passage into his Julius Cæsar :


By sickness being imprison'd in his bed

"Whilst I Ligarius spied, whom pains did prick,
"When I had said with words that anguish bred,
"In what a time Ligarius art thou sick?

"He answer'd straight, as I had physick brought,
"Or that he had imagin'd my design,


If worthy of thyself thou would'st do aught,


Then Brutus I am whole, and wholly thine." Here it may be observed, Shakspeare gives to Rome the manners of his own time. It was a common practice in England for those who were sick to wear a kerchief on their heads, and still continues among the common people in many places. says Fuller, "this county [Cheshire], hath bred no writers in that


LIG. I am not sick, if Brutus have in hand Any exploit worthy the name of honour.

BRU. Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius, Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.

LIG. By all the gods that Romans bow before, I here discard my sickness. Soul of Rome !

Brave son, deriv'd from honourable loins!
Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjur❜d up
My mortified spirit'. Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible;
Yea, get the better of them. What's to do?
BRU. A piece of work, that will make sick men

LIG. But are not some whole, that we must make sick?

BRU. That must we also. What it is, my Caius, I shall unfold to thee, as we are going

To whom it must be done.

Set on your foot;
And, with a heart new-fir'd, I follow you,
To do I know not what: but it sufficeth,
That Brutus leads me on.


Follow me, then.


faculty [physick,] the wonder is the less, if it be true what I read, that if any there be sick, they make him a posset, and tye a kerchief on his head, and if that will not mend him, then God be merciful to him." Worthies: Cheshire, p. 180. MALONE. 1 Thou, like an EXORCIST, hast conjur'd up

My mortified spirit.] Here, and in all other places where the word occurs in Shakspeare, to exorcise means to raise spirits, not to lay them; and I believe he is singular in his acceptation of it. M. MASON.

See vol. x. p. 490, n. 3. MALONE.


The Same. A Room in CÆSAR'S Palace.

Thunder and Lightning. Enter CESAR, in his Night-gown.

CES. Nor heaven, nor earth, have been at peace to-night:

Thrice hath Calphurnia in her sleep cried out, Help, ho! They murder Cæsar! Who's within?

Enter a Servant.

SERV. My lord?

CES. Go bid the priests do present sacrifice, And bring me their opinions of success.

SERV. I will, my lord.



CAL. What mean you, Cæsar? Think you to walk forth?

You shall not stir out of your house to-day.

CES. Cæsar shall forth: The things that threat

en'd me,

Ne'er look'd but on my back; when they shall see The face of Cæsar, they are vanished.

CAL. Cæsar, I never stood on ceremonies 2,

2 Cæsar, I never stood on CEREMONIES,] i. e. I never paid a ceremonious or superstitious regard to prodigies or omens. The adjective is used in the same sense in The Devil's Charter, 1607:

[ocr errors]

"The devil hath provided in his covenant,
"I should not cross myself at any time :

"I never was so ceremonious."

The original thought is in the old translation of Plutarch: Calphurnia, until that time, was never given to any fear or superstition." STEEVENS,

« AnteriorContinua »