E H Seymour.

Remarks, critical, conjectural, and explanatory, upon the plays of Shakspeare; resulting from a collation of the early copies, with that of Johnson and Steevens, ed. by Isaac Reed, esq., together with some valuable extracts from the mss. of the late Right Honourable John, lord Chedworth (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online LibraryE H SeymourRemarks, critical, conjectural, and explanatory, upon the plays of Shakspeare; resulting from a collation of the early copies, with that of Johnson and Steevens, ed. by Isaac Reed, esq., together with some valuable extracts from the mss. of the late Right Honourable John, lord Chedworth (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 21)
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256. " Be not out with me."

i. e. Be not out of humour with me"; be not
unkindly disposed towards me : the phrase is
still current in Ireland.

258. " There have sat"

This corrupt use of the imperfect past tense for
the perfect, sitten, has become so general as to
make propriety almost obsolete.

" That Tyber trembled" &c.

Insomuch that Tyber trembled, &c. as in Mac-
beth :

" There's one did laugh in his sleep, and

one cried murder,
" That they did wake each other."

TVeep your tears

" Into the channel, till the lowest stream
" Do kiss the most exalted shores of all."

VOL. II. b


This thought, without the extravagance of
the hyperbole, occurs in As You Like It :

" Thus the hairy fool

" Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
" Augmenting it with tears."


261. " When Casar says, do this, it is per-
form d"

" Sit lux et lux fuit."

263. Br. " I'll leave you."

This, like many other fragments, is evidently
an idle interpolation ; it is utterly useless to the
sense and spirit of the dialogue, and disfigures the
verse. The removal of this hemistic would ob-
viate Mr. Steevens's anxiety about the prosody in
what follows.

11 1 have not from your eyes that gentleness,
" And shew of love, as Izvas wont to have."

This mode of speech, the using " as," for that,
is an abuse which our poet himself seems to have
been prompt to reprehend, if I mistake not, the
meaning of a passage in Coriolanus, where Me-
nenius, railing at the citizens, says, " I find the
ass (quibble upon ass and as) in compound with
the major part of your syllables."

" //" / have veil'd my look,

" I turn the trouble of my countenance

" Merely upon myself."

I do not know what Brutus could mean by
veiling hi* countenance, unless he wore a mask,


which is by no means implied : I believe the
word has been misprinted, and that we should
read " vail'd," if I appear to have a dejected, or
castdozvn look: "to vail," in the sense of to
bow, submit, is frequently occurring- :

" If he have power, then vail your ignorance."


<( Vailing their high tops lower than their ribs/*

Merchant of Venice.

" ' Vexed I am,

" Of late, with passions of some difference."

With contending passions.

264. "Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your

This abuse of the ^ tense may be found in
writers who are supposed to be, generally, more
correct than Shakspeare. We might, however,
easily read, for " mistook," mistaken.

" 'Tisjust."

This fragment might be spared, and Cassius
proceed, connectedly enough, without such in-
terruption of the measure.

" For that which is not in me."

Both the metre and the sense of the context
shew that some words have been lost here :
Cassius, I suppose, replied,

"- Nay, it is,

" Therefore," &c.

365. " Be not jealous of me"

i. e. Be not suspicious."

B 2


265. " Set honour in one eye, and death V the

" And I rcill look on both indifferently"

" In the eye," for in my view. I cannot think
that Dr. Johnson has accurately explained this
passage : the meaning of " indifferently" is not,
I apprehend, without preference, but serenely,
coolly, without that alarm or perturbation which
might prevent my chusing properly. A senti-
ment resembling this occurs in K. Henry IV.
where Hotspur exclaims,

" Send danger from the East unto the West,
" So honour cross it from the North to South;
" And let them grapple."

266. " The troubled Tyber chafing with her


This mistake of the gender of Tyber was noted
before in the first scene, by Mr. Steevens ; it is
very uncouth, and ought, I think, to be cor-
rected in the text.

" Ere zee could arrive the point," Sec.

Arrive, as a verb active, is used in other places;
and we find it so applied by Milton :

" Arrived the happy coast."

Paradise Lost.

*67. " I, as ASneos," &c.

The nominative pronoun, here, has no verb
belonging to it. The awkward pleonasm might
be removed by reading, for " I,*'

11 Then, as /Eneas," &c.

" The old Anchiscs," &c.


The hypermeter, here, might be obviated with-
out much violence :

As iEneas, our great ancestor,

" Did, from Troy's flames, upon his shoulders

" The old Anchises, so, from the waves of Ty-

ber," &c.

Or Tyber's waves.

" A man of such a feeble temper."

Cassius seems, here, to pay a compliment to
Caesar that he did not intend ; he wonders that
Caesar should be liable to the attack of a fever,
or the common incidents of humanity.

268. " Another general shout /"

There is no occasion for the word " general,'*
here, which only spoils the measure :

" And bear the palm alone. (Shout.)

" Another shout."

" Men, at some time are masters of their fates."

Every man has it in his power, at some time or
other, to achieve his fortune or assert his dignity.
A similar reflection occurs again : -

" There is a tide in the affairs of men,

" Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."

" Brutus andCcesar : what should be in (that)
Ccesar r

" That" should be omitted.

" Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Ctesar."

The word sprite, which in other places is put
for spirit, would improve the measure.

b 3


26*9. " Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough,"

I wish there was no room for this pun.

" Room enough," &c.

The occasion to pun was too tempting, as it
seems to be at present. 13. Strutt.

" ' I am nothing jealous ."

" Jealous," for doubtful.

" . The eternal devil."

Bternity is here ascribed to the devil, generally,
as an attribute; and not, as Mr. Steevens sup-
poses, with any reference to the continuance of
his reign in Rome.

2/0. " Under these hard conditions, as this time
" Is like to lay upon us."

The " ass," again, " in compound," &c. See
Coriolanus, Act 2, Scene 1, 67.

" lam glad, that my weak words."

This is too much for the measure, " weak"
might be omitted, and " upon us," in the com-
ponent part of the line, compressed to two sylla-
bles :

" Is like to lay upon lis.

" I am glad my words."


" Looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes,
" As we have seen him in the Capitol."

The construction is wrong; a verb is wanting.

We might obtain concord by reading,

' As i' the capitol he's wont to shew,

' Being cross'd," &c.


272. " Such men as he be never at heart's ease."

The using, thus, the subjunctive " be," instead
of the indicative are, is an error that, I think,
should be silently repaired in the text. Notwith-
standing it was the practice of our author, as
well as others of his time, why should mistakes
confessed, be perpetuated when they can be cor-
rected without any inconvenience ?

" Why, you were with him, zvere you not ?>'

The measure, here, is unnecessarily interrupted
I would read,

" That Csesar looks so sad.

" Were you not with him ?"


" What was the second noise for V
(Why) for that too:'


" Why, for that too

" Was the crown offered (him) thrice?"

" Why" and " him" should both be ejected.

273. " I durst not laugh for fear of opening my

lips, and receiving the bad air:'

Casca was not in quite such piteous case as a
certain sea-sick traveller, who, in excuse for the
intolerable clamour he made, observed, that his
neighbour above him was vomiting on his face,
while he himself was so sick that he could not
keep his* mouth shut.

275. " With better appetite:*

This hemistic might be accommodated in the
b 4


following line, dismissing from the latter three
useless words " for this time :"

" With better appetite."-

So 'tis. I'll leave you."

" / will come home to you ; or, if you will,

" Come home with me, and I zvill wait for you"

This must be wrong : if Cassius went with
Brutus, Brutus could not wait. I would propose :

" I will go home to you ; or, if you will,

" Come home to me, and I will wait for you."

" From that it is dispos'd: therefore 'tis meet."

The grammar and the metre both require cor-
rection. We might read :

" From that it is dispos'd to ; so 'tis meet."

276. " Ccesar doth bear me hard ; but he loves
Brutus :
" If I were Brutus now, and he were

" He should not humour me."

Cassius is a selfish moralist ; he would not be
tempted to betray his friend, though he advises
Brutus to do so.


281. " Why birds, and beasts, from quality and

This line should certainly be placed, as Dr.
Johnson proposes, after the line which now fol-
lows it.

" Infus'd them with these spirits," &c.


" Infused," for inspired, endued. The same
abuse of this word occurs in The Tempest, where
Prospero tells Mirando, he has " infus'd her with
a fortitude."

583. " He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.**

"Hinds," here, is equivocal: the beasts so
called, and peasants.

" Such a man,

" That is no fleering tell-tale."

This inaccuracy has occurred more than once
before ; the pronoun instead of the comparative

284. " Be factious for redress."

Mr. Malone is clearly right in his explanation
of "be factious," combine, strengthen your
party. Mr. Steevens gives no support to Dr.
Johnson's interpretation, (be active) in the pas-
sage from Coriolanus, where " factionary, on the
part of your general," is to be understood ex-
actly in the sense that Mr. Malone gives ; i. e. of
the same party or faction with your general : and
one would hardly have supposed that Mr. Stee-
vens was to be told, that " faction," in such in-
stances, is not used in the unfavourable sense :

" Her faction will be full as strong as our's."

Henry VI. Second Part.

286. " Will change to virtue, and to worthiness."

The harmony of Shakspeare's versification is so
varied, that the cadences falling exactly on the
same places, in different lines, is remarkable. In
Hamlet there is a verse completely consonant to
this :

M She turns to favour and to prettiness."



288. " Ambition x ladder,

" Whereto the climber -upward turns his

The compounding thus, with a hyphen,
" climber" and " upward," alters, I think, and
impairs, the sense: if it be, indeed, a compound,
the latter part is superfluous ; for he who climbs,
necessarily goes upward : but the meaning* of
the passage, as I conceive it, is, that young Am-
bition, while mounting, directs his view to the
upper part of the ladder, which (as soon as lie has
availed himself of the entire use of it) he turns his
back upon, and then looks to the clouds. The
mistake arises from a supposed antithesis between
" face" and " back," but the only opposition in-
tended is in the progress of Ambition's climbing,
from the bottom to the top of the ladder, from
lowly complacency to exalted arrogance.

.'289. " So Casar may ;

" Then, lest he may"

This is badly expressed. That " he may," is
admitted, absolutely ; and it is not the hypothe-
sis that is to be subverted, but the probable ef-
fect that is to be prevented : it should be, " then
lest he do ;" i. e. lest he practically accomplish
what his condition indicates.

289- " Colour."

Specious or plausible appearance.

290. " I have took "


The familiarity of this false expression, for I
have taken, or ta'en, should not protect it from

291- " Sir, March is wasted fourteen days."

The measure might be filled up thus :

" Sir, March is wasted now, full fourteen days."

" Betzveen the acting of a dreadful thing
" And the jirst motion, all the interim is
" Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream :
" The genius, and the mortal instruments,
11 Are then in council," Sec.

I do not perceive that Dr. Johnson's explana-
tion of " the genius and the mortal instruments"
is right (the power that watches for the protec-
tion of the conspirator, and the passions which
excite him to a deed of honour and danger.) I
rather think this is the meaning : The imagina-
tion, the purpose, or device, and the means of ef-
fecting; it, are then in consultation with each
other: " a dreadful thing," though put thus, ge-
nerally, implies, in the speaker's mind, the in-
tended assassination ; and hence " the mortal in-

296. " To mask thy monstrous visage ? Seek

none, conspiracy."*

This far exceeds the measure. I would pro-
pose, with the ejection of a word that the con-
struction may spare,

" To mask thy monstrous visage ? None con-
spiracy." v

297. " This, Casca ; this, Cinna."

The metre here falls into disorder. I would
repair it in this manner :


" This valiant Casca ; Cinna, this ; and this,

" Metellus Cimber."

" They are welcome, all."

298. " No, not an oath : If not the face of men,
11 The sufferance of our souls, the time's

" If these be motives weak," Sec.

Thi6 change in the drift of the sentence, whe-
ther careless, or studied by the poet, is natural,
and frequently occurs in animated speech.

299. " ' High-sighted tyranny."'

Tyranny looking aloft, ambitious.

u What need we any spur, but our own cause,
11 To prick us to redress ?"

We find in Macbeth a similar expression :

I have no spur,

" To prick the sides of my intent, but only
" Vaulting ambition," &c.

300. " Such suffering souls

" Iliat welcome wrongs."-

Concord requires, here, the comparative con-
junction " as," instead of the pronoun " that," as
we find it properly applied in the very next line :

" Unto bad causes swear

" Such creatures as men doubt," &c.

Inaccuracies of this kind should not be suffered
to disfigure the text, or be admitted as the lan-
guage of the poet, or of his time.

" ' Every drop of blood

" Is guilty of a several bastardy."


" Guilty-of," seems here to stand for " brand-
ed-with the disgrace-of ;" or are we to under-
stand the expression thus : " Upon the occasion
of such a breach of honour, every drop of blood
contributes to cause or generate in a Roman
breast a new base and illegitimate spirit.

302. " And let our hearts, as subtle masters do,
" Stir up their servants to an act of rage,
" And after seem to chide them. 1 '

But the drift of Brutus's speech is to deprecate
what is here recommended : " and," in the first
line, unquestionably should be " nor. 1 '

" We shall be called purgers, not murderers' 1

What sort of a line is this ? We can count,
indeed, just ten syllables, but not a single cadence
for a verse ; which, however, a slight transposi-
tion would yield :

il Purgers we shall be call'd ; not murderers."

303. " Take thought, and die for

Ccesar. 11

Notwithstanding Mr. Henley's learned argu-
ment, I believe Dr. Johnson's interpretation of
" take thought," i. e. turn melancholy, is right.
We find " thought" applied in the same sense in
Anthony and Cleopatra; where Enobarbus says,

This blows my heart ;

" If swift thought break it not, a swifter mean
" Shall outstrike thoughts but thought will do't"

And the context itself, in the present instance,
seems to impress this meaning.

" If he love Ccesar, all that he can do
" Is to himself ; take thought, and die for
Ccesar :


" And that were much he should ; for he
is given

" To sports, to wildness, and much com-

It is not probable, says Brutus, that Anthony
should devote himself to grief and melancholy,
who is so much addicted to levity and mirth. If
there be any longer a doubt remaining, that
" melancholy" is meant by " thought," in these
instances, it must vanish, I suppose, entirely, up-
on the appearance of the following lines of Eno-
barbus :

" O sovereign mistress of true melancholy,
" The poisonous damp of night dispunge upon

" That life, a very rebel to my will,
" May hang no longer on me."

This interpretation of thought, I find illus-
trated in Bacotfs Historic of the Raigne of
King Henry the Seuenth :

" Hawis, an alderman of London, was put in
trouble, and died with thought and anguish, be-
fore his businesse came to an end."

305. " Let me work."

Mr. Steevens, upon this fragment remarks :
" These words, as they stand, being quite unme-
trical, I suppose our author to have originally
written Let me to work ; i. e. go to work!" I
fear this emendation will not be much commended.
More probable words, I believe, would be, Leave
me to work ; (t. e. let me alone to manage this
matter.) But who can say that the -words, as
they stand, are unmetrical, while we are unac-
quainted with what were to follow them ? these,
for instance, would make harmony :


" Let me work on him ; I can humour him."

507. " Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber'

Honey-heavy ; i. e. sweetly-oppressive.

308. " Is Brutus sick ? and is it physical

" To walk unbraced ;

" And will he steal out of his xvholesome

" To dare the vile contagion of the night f"

tl No, my Brutus ;

" You have some sick offence within your

mind,'" &c.

A good deal of this scene has been borrowed
by Dr. Young ; where Zanga, leaving his bed, to
brood upon his revenge, during a tempest like this
described by Shakspeare, is assailed by the tender
solicitations of Isabella :

" Is this a night for contemplation ?

Something unusual hangs upon your mind ;
" And I will know it : by our loves I will."

" Physical," for medicinal, occurs in Corio-
lanus :

" The blood I drop is rather physical."
" / charm you"

I enjoin you by the influence of what is sacred.

1 fear the poet is at his old tricks : he would have
said, " I conjure you;" but then " c6njure"
started up, and, to make the matter sure that
way, he wrote " charm."

312. " Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble

i. e. Vouchsafe to receive good morrow. It is
very harsh construction.


312. " O, what a time have you chose out, brave
" To w ear a kerchief?"

This thought occurs in the First Part of King
Henry IV.

" 'Zounds ! how has he the leisure to be sick,
" In such a justling time ?"

And it is also introduced by Beaumont and
Fletcher, in The Loyal Subject :

" The general sick now ! Is this a time
" For men to creep into their beds ?"


315. " Drizzled blood upon the Capitol."

This tremendous phenomenon has been found
by modern naturalists to be nothing more than
excremental evacuations from hovering swarms of
a certain kind of beetles.

" The noise of battle hurtled in the air."

Gray has introduced this word into one of his
odes :

" Iron sleet of arrowy shower
" Hurtles in the darken'd air."

316. " These things are beyond all use. 1 *

Out of the scope of usage or custom. Thus in
Macbeth :

" And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
" Against the use of nature."


These predictions

" Are to the world in general, as to Ca-


In the same way does King Richard the Third
console himself under the ominous seclusion of
the sun :

" Not shine to-day ! why what is that to me,
" More than to Richmond ? since the self-same

" That frowns on me, looks lowring upon him."

322. " Bid them prepare within.'''

We might save the metre, by reading, ellipti-

" Bid prepare."

323. " That every like is not the same"

That every thing is not really what it appears.
Thus Iago, less honestly, remarks :

Men should be what they seem,

" Or, those that be not, would they might seem

326. " None that I know will be : much that I
fear may chance.'*

The obscurity of oracular responses would,
perhaps, justify the restoration of the metre, here,
by reading, elliptically,

" None that I know will be : much, fear, will
vol. ii. c



32.Q. " Cassias, be constant."

Be steady ; let not your resolution be affected,
disconcerted, or changed, by this circumstance.

331. " Be not fond

To think;' &c.

i. e. Be not weak-minded.

332. " Caesar doth not wrong but with

just cause"

I wish that Mr. Tyrwhitt, who undertook to
defend this expression, as it is supposed origi-
nally to have stood, had favoured us with an ex-
ample, in any other English author, of " wrong's"
being used with a meaning different from that of
injury. Until this can be shown, I fear the vota-
ries of Shakspeare's muse must abide the sarcasms
of Jonson, howsoever they disrelish his malignity.
The passage cited by Mr. Malone from the Rape
of Lucrece to support Mr. Tyrwhitt, I fear, is in-
sufficient, as the word "wrong," there, seems to
have been adopted merely for the sake of the jin-
gle and alliteration; and, as to what Mr. Steevens
produces from K. Henry IV. where Justice Shal-
low tells Daw, that his friend shall have no
wrong, I cannot discover any other meaning in
it than that the fellow, although " an errant
knave," should not be treated with unjust rigour.
But, even if both those cases were applicable,
how would it mitigate or remove the severity of
Ben, to prove that the inaccuracy which he was
exposing was not only really existent but com-
mon with our poet.

333. " ' Freedom of repeal."
Freedom that repeal will give.


337- " This mutiny:'

The poet uses " mutiny" for tumult or commo-
tion, simply, as he does" faction" merely for a
contending party.

338. " So oft as that shall be."

The metre wants correction, here; some words
have been obtruded : I suppose we should read :

" No worthier than the dust
" As that shall be."

339. " So often shall the knot of us be called" &c.
" Knot" is league, confederacy.

" With the most boldest and best hearts of Rome:''

It has been remarked already that, anciently,
the degrees of comparison, in the English lan-
guage, were not confined to three ; they were, at
least, five ; as, good, better, more better, best,
most best, &c.

" With all true faith, so says my master An-

I would read, " so says Mark Antony."

" I never thought him worse"

This is a miserable interpolation, and could
never have been written by the poet.

340. " Who else must be let bloody who

else is rank."

I cannot agree in Dr. Johnson's interpretation
of " rank," here, " overtopping equals," or
" growing too high," much less in Mr. Malone's,
" too replete with blood." I believe it only
means distempered, corrupt, requiring to be
purged and corrected, by being bled.
c 2


341. " ' Live a thousand years,

" I shall not find myself so apt to die.* 1

This sentiment, which is suggested to Antony
by grief and dispair, breaks from Othello in the
height of exultation s

" If it were now to die,

" 'Twere now to be most happy!"

" No place will please me so, no mean of death."

" Mean," here, has an unusual signification : it
cannot be medium, nor yet " means" (efficient
cause), for that was expressed just before :

" No instruments

" Of half that force as those your swords," &c.

But it seems to imply mode, manner, form.

" As fire drives out fire, so pity, pity."

In these works we find that fire is sometimes a
monosyllable and sometimes a dissyllable, but the
difference should certainly be marked, in the
spelling : it should, here, in one case be written

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryE H SeymourRemarks, critical, conjectural, and explanatory, upon the plays of Shakspeare; resulting from a collation of the early copies, with that of Johnson and Steevens, ed. by Isaac Reed, esq., together with some valuable extracts from the mss. of the late Right Honourable John, lord Chedworth (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 21)