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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 mafters of their fates:
SCENE IV. Cæfar's Diflike of Caffius.
Would he were fatter; but I fear him not: Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid,
So foon as that spare Caffius. He reads much;
(4) He bears, &c.] Mr. Theobald obferves well here: "This is not a trivial obfervation, 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 compofition: and that, therefore, natures, fo uncorrected, are dangerous." He hath finely dilated on this fentiment, in his Merchant of Venice.
The man that hath no mufick, &..
See vol. i p.71.
That could be mov'd to fmile at any thing.
SCENE VII. Spirit of Liberty.
I know, where I will wear this dagger then:
If I know this; know all the world befides,
ACT II. SCENE I.
Ambition, cover'd with fpecious Humility.
That lowlinefs is young ambition's ladder,
Confpiracy, dreadful till executed.
(5) Between the acting of a dreadful thing,
(5) Between, &c] Mr, Addifon has paraphrafed this inimitable paffage, in his Cato, which always ferves to remind me of that excellent diftinction, made by Mr. Guthrie, in his Effay on Tragedy, betwixt a poet and a genius: See p. 18, &c. and p. 237. vol. 1.
O think, what anxious moments pafs between
Oh 'tis a dreadful interval of time,
Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death.
CATO Either Mr Theobald, or Mr. Warburton (which who can pronounce, fince the one prints the fame words in his preface, which the other ufes as his own in his notes? See Theobald's preface vol. 1. p. 25, and Warburton on the passage) either the one or the other of them, have obferved," that nice critic, Dionyfius, of Halicarnaffus, confeffes, that he could not find those great ftrokes, which he calls the terrible graces, any where fo frequent as in Homer. I believe the fuccefs would be the fame, likewife, if we fought for them in any other of our authors befides our British Homer, Shakespear. This defcription of the condition of confpirators has a pomp and terror in it, that perfectly aftonishes; our excellent Mr. Addifon, whofe modefty made him fometimes diffident in his own genius, but whofe exquifite judgment always led him to the safest guides, has paraphrafed this fine defcription: but we are no longer to expect thofe terrible graces, which he could not hinder from evaporating in the transfufion. We may obferve two things on-his imitation: first, that the fubjects of thefe two confpiracies being fo very different, (the fortune of Cæfar and the Roman empire being concern'd in the firft, and that of only a few auxiliary troops in the other) Mr. Addifon could not with that propriety bring in that magnificent circumftance, which gives the terrible grace to Shakespear's defcription:
The genius and the mortal inftruments
Are then in council.
Sham'st thou to fhew thy dang'rous brow by night,
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough,
To mask thy monftrous vifage? Seek none, confpiracy;
Hide it in. (miles and affability:
For if thou (6) path, thy nativé femblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
For kingdoms, in the poetical theology befides their good, have their vil genius's likewife, reprefented here with the most daring stretch of fancy, as fitting in council with the confpirators, whom he calls the mortal inftruments. But this would have been too great an apparatus to the rape and defertion of Syphaxand Sempronius. Secondly, the other thing very obferveable is, that Mr. Addifen was fo warm'd and affected with the fire of Shakespear's defcription, that instead of copying his author's fentiments, he has, before he was aware, given us only the image of his own expreffions, on the reading his great original. For
Oh, 'tis a dreadful interval of time
Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death,
Are but the affections rais'd by fuch forcible images as these,
All the interim is
Like a phantafma, or a hideous dream.
Like to a little kingdom, fuffers then
Comparing the mind of a confpirator to an anarchy, is just and beautiful: but the interim to a hideous dream, has fomething in it fo wonderfully natural, and lays the human foul fo open, that one cannot but be furpriz'd, that any poet, who had not himfelf been fome time or other engaged in a confpiracy, could ever have given fuch force of colouring to truth and nature.
(6) Path,] i. e. walk; he makes a verb of the fubftantive, which is very common with him.