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Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds,
The noise of battle hurtled in the air,5
And ghosts did shriek, and squeal about the streets.?
And I do fear them.
What can be avoided,
Whose end is purpos'd by the mighty gods?
Cal. When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.3
4 Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds,
In ranks, and squadrons, and right form of war,] So, in Tacitus, Hist. B. V: "Visæ per cœlum concurrere acies, rutilantia arma, et subito nubium igne collucere" &c. Steevens.
Again, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590:
"I will persist a terror to the world;
Making the meteors that like armed men
"Are seen to march upon the towers of heaven,
"And break their burning launces in the ayre,
"For honour of my wondrous victories." Malone.
3 The noise of battle hurtled in the air,] To hurtle is, I suppose, to clash, or move with violence and noise. So, in Selimus, Emperor of the Turks, 1594:
"Here the Polonian he comes hurtling in, "Under the conduct of some foreign prince." Again, ibid:
"To toss the spear, and in a warlike gyre "To hurtle my sharp sword about my head." Shakspeare uses the word again in As you Like it: 66 in which hurtling,
"From miserable slumber I awak'd."
To hurtle originally signified to push violently; and, as in such an action a loud noise was frequently made, it afterwards seems to have been used in the sense of to clash. So, in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, v. 2618:
"And he him hurtleth with his hors adoun." Malone.
6 Horses did neigh,] Thus the second folio. Its blundering predecessor reads:
"Horses do neigh. Steevens.
7 And ghosts did shriek, and squeal about the streets.] So, in Lodge's Looking Glasse for London and England, 1598:
"The ghosts of dead men howling walke about,
Cas. Cowards die many times before their deaths ;? The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,1
It seems to me most strange that men should fear
Will come, when it will come.
Re-enter a Servant.
What say the augurers?
Serv. They would not have you to stir forth to-day. Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
They could not find a heart within the beast.
8 When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.] "Next to the shadows and pretences of experience, (which have been met withall at large) they seem to brag most of the strange events which follow (for the most part) after blazing stärres; as if they were the summoners of God to call princes to the seat of judgment. The surest way to shake their painted bulwarks of experience is, by making plaine, that neyther princes always dye when comets blaze, nor comets ever [i. e. always] when princes dye." Defensative against the Poison of supposed Prophecies, by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, 1583.
Again, ibid: "Let us look into the nature of a comet, by the face of which it is supposed that the same should portend plague, famine, warre, or the death of potentates." Malone.
9 Cowards die many times before their deaths;] So, in the ancient translation of Plutarch, so often quoted:
"When some of his friends did counsel him to have a guard for the safety of his person; he would never consent to it, but said, it was better to die once, than always to be affrayed of death." Steevens. So, in Marston's Insatiate Countess, 1613:
"Fear is my vassal; when I frown, he flies,
"A hundred times in life a coward dies."
Lord Essex, probably before any of these writers, made the same remark. In a letter to Lord Rutland, he observes, "that as he which dieth nobly, doth live for ever, so he that doth live in fear, doth die continually." Malone.
1 that I yet have heard,] This sentiment appears to have been imitated by Dr. Young in his tragedy of Busiris, King of Egypt: Didst thou e'er fear?
"Sure 'tis an art; I know not how to fear :
death, a necessary end, &c.] This is a sentence derived from the stoical doctrine of predestination, and is therefore improper in the mouth of Cæsar. Johnson.
Cas. The gods do this in shame of cowardice :3
If he should stay at home to-day for fear.
We were two lions litter'd in one day,
Alas, my lord,
Your wisdom is consum'd in confidence.
Do not go forth to-day: Call it my fear,
That keeps you in the house, and not your own.
3 in shame of cowardice:] The ancients did not place courage but wisdom in the heart. Johnson.
4 We were] In old editions:
The copies have been all corrupt, and the passage, of course, unintelligible. But the slight alteration I have made, [We were] restores sense to the whole; and the sentiment will neither be unworthy of Shakspeare, nor the boast too extravagant for Cæsar in a vein of vanity to utter that he and danger were two twin-whelps of a lion, and he the elder, and more terrible of the two. Theobald. Mr. Upton recommends us to read:
This resembles the boast of Otho:
Experti invicem sumus, Ego et Fortuna. Tacitus. Steevens. It is not easy to determine, which of the two readings has the best claim to a place in the text. If Theobald's emendation be adopted, the phraseology, though less elegant, is perhaps more Shaksperian. It may mean the same as if he had written-We two lions were litter'd in one day, and I am the elder and more terrible of the two.
5 -Cesar shall go forth.] Any speech of Cæsar, throughout this scene, will appear to disadvantage, if compared with the following sentiments, put into his mouth by May, in the seventh Book of his Supplement to Lucan:
Plus me, Calphurnia, luctus
"Et lacrymæ movere tuæ, quam tristia vatum
"(Dum nec luce frui, nec mortem arcere licebit)
"Jus dabit, et vanus semper dominabitur augur." Steevens.
And he shall say, you are not well to-day':
Cas. Mark Antony shall say, I am not well;
Here's Decius Brutus, he shall tell them so.
Dec. Cæsar, all hail! Good morrow, worthy Cæsar : I come to fetch you to the senate-house.
Cas. And you are come in very happy time,
To bear my greeting to the senators,
Shall Cæsar send a lie? Have I in conquest stretch'd mine arm so far, To be afeard to tell grey-beards the truth? Decius, go tell them, Cæsar will not come.
Dec. Most mighty Cæsar, let me know some cause, Lest I be laugh'd at, when I tell them so.
Cas. The cause is in my will, I will not come ; That is enough to satisfy the senate.
But, for your private satisfaction,
Because I love you, I will let you know.
Dec. This dream is all amiss interpreted;
6 my statua,] See Vol. II, p. 226, n. 4; and Vol. XI, p. 113. n. 2. Steevens.
7 • warnings, portents,] Old copy, unmetrically-warnings and portents. Steevens.
8 And evils imminent;] The late Mr. Edwards was of opinion that we should read:
Of evils imminent. Steevens.
The alteration proposed by Mr. Edwards is needless, and tends to weaken the force of the expressions, which form, as they now stand, a regular climax. Henley.
Your statue spouting blood in many pipes,
Cas. And this way have you well expounded it.
you shall send them word, you will not come,
Their minds may change. Besides, it were a mock
When Casar's wife shall meet with better dreams.1
Pardon me, Cæsar; for my dear, dear love
9 - and that great men shall press
For tinctures, stains, relicks, and cognizance.] 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 Decius, all come to you as to a saint, for reliques, as to a prince, for honours. Johnson.
I believe tinctures has no relation to heraldry, but means merely handkerchiefs, or other linen, tinged with blood. Bullokar, in his Expositor, 1616, defines it "a dipping, colouring or staining of a thing." So, in Act III, sc. ii:
"And dip their napkins," &c.
I concur in opinion with Mr. Malone. At the execution of seve ral of our ancient nobility, martyrs, &c. we are told that handkerchiefs were tinctured with their blood, and preserved as affectionate or salutary memorials of the deceased. Steevens.
1 When Cesar's wife shall meet with better dreams.] So, in Lord Sterline's Julius Cæsar, 1607:
"How can we satisfy the world's conceit,
"Whose tongues still in all ears your praise proclaims ? "Or shall we bid them leave to deal in state,
"Till that Calphurnia first have better dreams?" Malone.
2 And reason &c.] And reason, or propriety of conduct and language, is subordinate to my love. Johnson.