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Which, out of use, and stal'd by other men,
Our best friends made, our means stretch'd to the utmost;
which Mr. Steevens has well illustrated by a line in our poet's 152d Sonnet:
"And made them swear against the thing they see." MALONE.
1 - and stal'd by other men,
Begin his fashion:] Shakspeare has already woven this circumstance into the character of Justice Shallow: " He came ever in the rearward of the fashion; and sung those tunes that he heard the carmen whistle." STEEVENS.
a PROPERTY.] i. e. as a thing quite at our disposal, and to be treated as we please. So, in Twelfth-Night:
"They have here propertied me, kept me in darkness," &c. STEEVENS.
3 Our best friends made, our means stretch'd TO THE UTMOST ;] In the old copy, by the carelessness of the transcriber or printer, this line is thus imperfectly exhibited:
"Our best friends made, our means stretch'd;" The editor of the second folio supplied the line by reading"Our best friends made, and our best means stretch'd out." This emendation, which all the modern editors have adopted, was, like almost all the other corrections of the second folio, as ill conceived as possible. For what is best means? Means, or abilities, if stretched out, receive no additional strength from the word best, nor does means, when considered without reference to others, as the power of an individual, or the aggregated abilities of a body of men, seem to admit of a degree of comparison. However that may be, it is highly improbable that a transcriber or compositor should be guilty of three errors in the same line; that he should omit the word and in the middle of it, then the word best after our, and lastly the concluding word. It is much more probable that the omission was only at the end of the line, (an error which is found in other places in these plays,) and that the author wrote, as I have printed:
Our best friends made, our means stretch'd to the utmost.” So, in a former scene :
And let us presently go sit in council,
OCT. Let us do so: for we are at the stake*,
And some, that smile, have in their hearts, I fear, Millions of mischiefs.
Before BRUTUS' Tent, in the Camp near Sardis.
Drum. Enter BRUTUS, LUCILIUS, LUCIUS, and Soldiers: TITINIUS and PINDARUS meeting them. BRU. Stand, ho!
Luc. Give the word, ho! and stand.
BRU. What now, Lucilius? is Cassius near? Luc. He is at hand; and Pindarus is come To do you salutation from his master.
[PINDARUS gives a Letter to BRUTUS. BRU. He greets me well.-Your master, Pinda
-and, you know, his means,
"If he improve them, may well stretch so far." Again, in the following passage in Coriolanus, which, I trust, will justify the emendation now made;
for thy revenge
"Wrench up your power to the highest." MALONE.
I am satisfied with the reading of the second folio, in which I perceive neither aukwardness nor want of perspicuity. Best is a word of mere enforcement, and is frequently introduced by Shakspeare. Thus, in King Henry VIII. :
"My life itself and the best heart of it—————.”
Why does best, in this instance, seem more significant than when it is applied to means? STEEVENS.
-at the STAKE,] An allusion to bear-bating. So, in Macbeth, Act V. Sc. VII. vol. xi. p. 268:
They have chain'd me to a stake, I cannot fly,
"But bear-like I must fight the course." STEEVENS.
In his own change, or by ill officers 5,
BRU. He is not doubted.-A word, Lucilius;
Luc. With courtesy, and with respect enough; But not with such familiar instances,
5 In his own CHANGE, or by ill officers,] The sense of which is this: Either your master, by the change of his virtuous nature, or by his officers abusing the power he had intrusted to them, hath done some things I could wish undone. This implies a doubt which of the two was the case. Yet, immediately after, on Pindarus's saying, "His master was full of regard and honour," he replies, "He is not doubted." To reconcile this we should read: "In his own charge, or by ill officers."
i. e. Either by those under his immediate command, or under the command of his lieutenants, who had abused their trust. Charge is so usual a word in Shakspeare, to signify the forces committed to the trust of a commander, that I think it needless to give any instances. WARBURTON.
The arguments for the change proposed are insufficient. Brutus could not but know whether the wrongs committed were done by those who were immediately under the command of Cassius, or those under his officers. The answer of Brutus to the Servant is only an act of artful civility; his question to Lucilius proves, that his suspicion still continued. Yet I cannot but suspect a corruption, and would read:
"In his own change, or by ill offices-."
That is, either changing his inclination of himself, or by the ill offices and bad influences of others. JOHNSON.
Surely alteration is unnecessary. In the subsequent conference Brutus charges both Cassius and his officer, Lucius Pella, with corruption. STEEVENS.
Brutus immediately after says to Lucilius, when he hears his account of the manner in which he had been received by Cassius : "Thou hast describ'd
"A hot friend cooling."
That is the change which Brutus complains of. M. MASON.
Nor with such free and friendly conference,
As he hath used of old.
There are no tricks in plain and simple faith:
Luc. They mean this night in Sardis to be quarter'd;
The greater part, the horse in general,
Hark, he is arriv'd:
Enter CASSIUS and Soldiers.
CAS. Stand, ho!
BRU. Stand, ho! Speak the word along.
CAS. Most noble brother, you have done me
BRU. Judge me, you gods! Wrong I mine enemies?
And, if not so, how should I wrong a brother?
And when you do them――
Cassius, be content, Speak your griefs softly,—I do know you well :
6 your GRIEFS] i. e. your grievances. See Henry IV. Part I. Act IV. Sc. III. :
Before the eyes of both our armies here,
Pindarus, Bid our commanders lead their charges off A little from this ground.
BRU. Lucilius, do you the like"; and let no man Come to our tent, till we have done our conference. Let Lucius and Titinius guard our door. [Exeunt.
Within the Tent of BRUTUS.
LUCIUS and TITINIUS at some distance from it.
Enter BRUTUS and Cassius.
CAS. That you have wrong'd me, doth appear in this:
You have condemn'd and noted Lucius Pella,
BRU. You wrong'd yourself, to write in such a
CAS. In such a time as this, it is not meet
The King hath sent to know
"The nature of your griefs." MALONE.
do the like;] Old copy-" do you the like;" but without regard to metre. STEEVENS.
every NICE offence - i. e. small trifling offence.
So, in Romeo and Juliet, Act V. vol. vi. p. 229: