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Is now become a god ; and Caffius is
Caf. Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
(3) So get, &c.] Mr. Warburton tells us the image is extremely noble: it is taken from the Olympic games.” Though that does not appear so certain or necessary, since the allufion to any publick games will do full as well ; yet what he says afterwards is more to the purpose : “ The majestic world is a fine periphrasis for the Reman empire : their citizens set themselves on a footing with kings, and they called their dominion, Orbis Romanus.” But the particu. lar allusion seems to be to the known story of Cæsar's great pattern, Alexander, who, being asked whether he would run the course at the Olympic games, replied, if the racers were kings.” For this allufion also, there does not seem the least hint in the piniisage; rather the contrary : Cassius wonders how such a feeble man thould fo get the start of all the Romans, the majestic world, as to bear the palm alone? How he, feebler than the rest, should in the course outHrip 'em all, and carry off the prize ?
Men at some times are masters of their fates:
Scene IV. Cæsar's Dislike of Cassius.
He loves no plays,
(4) He bears, &c.] Mr. Tbeobald obferves well here: “ This is not a trivial observation, nor does our poet mean barely by it,
that Caffius was not a merry, sprightly man, but that he had not a due temperament of harmony in his composition: and that, therefore, natures, so uncorrected, are dangerous.'
He hath finely dilated on this iment, in his Merchant of Venice. The man that hath no mufick, &c.
See vol, i p.71.
That could be mov'd to smile at any thing.
SCENE VII. Spirit of Liberty.
I know, where I will wear this dagger then ? Caffius from bondage will deliver Caffius. Therein, ye gods, you make the weak mot strong ; Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat : Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, Nor airless dungeon, nor itrong links of iron, Can be retentive to the strength of spirit : But life, being weary of these worldly bars, Never lacks power to dismiss itself. If I know this ; know all the world besides, That part of tyranny, that I do bear, I can shake off at pleasure.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Ambition, cover'd with specious Humility.
But 'tis a common proof,
Conspiracy, dreadful till executed.
(5) Between, &c ] Mr, Addison has paraphrased this inimitable passage, in his Cato, which always serves to remind me of that excellent distinction, made by Mr. Gutbrie, in his Elay on Tragedy, betwixt a poet and a genius : See p. 18, &c, and p. 237. vol. I.
O think, what anxious moments pafs between
Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death. Cato . Either Mr Theobald, or Mr.Warburton (which who can pronounce, since the one prints the same words in his preface, which the other uses as his own in his notes? See Tbeobald's preface vol. 1. p. 25, and Warburton on the passage) either the one or the other of them, have observed," that nice critic, Dionyfius, of Halicarnassus, confesses, that he could not find those great strokes, which he calls the terrible graces, any where so frequent as in Homer. I believe the succeis would be the fame, likewise, if we fought for them in any other of our authors besides our British Homer, Shakespear. This description of the condition of conspirators has a pomp and terror in it, that perfectly astonishes; our excellent Mr. Addison, whose modesty made him sometimes diffident in his own genius, but whole exquisite judgment always led him to the safest guides, has paraphrased this fine description: but we are no longer to expect those terrible graces, which he could not hinder from evaporating in the transfusion, We may observe two things on-his imitation : first, that the subjects of these two conspiracies being so very different, (the fortune of Cæsar and the Roman empire being concern'd in the first, and that of only a few auxiliary troops in the other) Mr. Addison could not with that propriety bring in that magnificent circumstance, which gives the terrible grace to Sbakespear's dea fcription :
The genius and the mortal instruments
O conspiracy! Sham'ft thou to fhew thy dang'rous brow by night, When evils are most free? O then, by day Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough, To mak thy monstrous visage ? Seek none, conspiracy; Hide it in. (miles and affability: For if thou (6) path, thy native semblance on, Not Erebus itself were dim enough To hide thee from prevention.
Gentle friends, Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully ; For kingdoms, in the poetical theology besides their good, have their kvilgenius's likewise, represented here with the most daring stretch of fancy, as sitting in council with the conspirators, whom he calls the mortal instruments. But this would have been too great an apparatus to the rape and desertion of Syphaxand Sempronius. Secondly, the other thing very observeable is, that Mr. Addisen was so warm'd and affected with the fire of Shakespear's description, that instead of copying his author's sentiments, he has, before he was aware, given us only the image of his own expressions, on the reading his great original. For
Oh, 'tis a dreadful interval of time
up with horror all, and big with death,
All the interim is
The state of man,
The nature of an insurrection Comparing the mind of a conspirator to an anarchy, is juft and beautiful: but the interim to a hideous dream, has something in it so wonderfully natural, and lays the human soul fo open, that one cannot but be surpriz’d, that any poet, who had not himself been some time or other engaged in a conspiracy, could ever have given luch force of colouring to truth and nature.
(6) Path,] i.e. walk ; he makes a verb of the substantive, which is very common with him.