Copy Text

It is naturally of the utmost importance to establish the copy text (CT) for any NVS edition, the primary version of a Shakespeare play from which all other editorial activity emanates, the crucial first step. Fortunately for the present editors, there was only one acceptable choice, the First Folio of 1623, its Julius Caesar alleged by most textual scholars to be one of its best-printed plays, with relatively few thorny issues to adjudicate. It is, however, not without its textual cruces, even in the example below, such as TLN 887, “wafter,” and TLN 912, “charme.” (See the CN and TN for fuller explanations.)

Here is a page image from F1 of TLN 873-952.

                                                                                Enter Portia

  Por. Brutus, my Lord.
  Bru. Portia: What meane you? wherfore rise you now?                                               875
It is not for your health, thus to commit
Your weake condition, to the raw cold morning.
  Por. Nor for yours neither. Y’haue vngently Brutus
Stole from my bed: and yesternight at Supper
You sodainly arose, and walk’d about,                                                                          880
Musing, and sighing, with your armes a-crosse:
And when I ask’d you what the matter was,
You star’d vpon me, with vngentle lookes.
I vrg’d you further, then you scratch’d your head,
And too impatiently stampt with your foote:                                                                    885
Yet I insisted, yet you answer’d not,
But with an angry wafter of your hand
Gaue signe for me to leaue you: So I did,
Fearing to strengthen that impatience
Which seem’d too much inkindled; and withall,                                                              890
Hoping it was but an effect of Humor,
Which sometime hath his houre with euery man.
It will not let you eate, nor talke, nor sleepe;
And could it worke so much vpon your shape,
As it hath much preuayl’d on your Condition,                                                                895
I should not know you Brutus. Deare my Lord,
Make me acquainted with your cause of greefe.
  Bru. I am not well in health, and that is all.
  Por. Brutus is wise, and were he not in health,
He would embrace the meanes to come by it.                                                                900
  Bru. Why so I do: good Portia go to bed.
  Por. Is Brutus sicke? And is it Physicall
To walke vnbraced, and sucke vp the humours
Of the danke Morning? What, is Brutus sicke?
And will he steale out of his wholsome bed                                                                    905
To dare the vile contagion of the Night?
And tempt the Rhewmy, and vnpurged Ayre,
To adde vnto hit sicknesse? No my Brutus,
You haue some sicke Offence within your minde,
Which by the Right and Vertue of my place                                                                    910
I ought to know of: And vpon my knees,
I charme you, by my once commended Beauty,
By all your vowes of Loue, and that great Vow
Which did incorporate and make vs one,
That you vnfold to me, your selfe; your halfe                                                                  915
Why you are heauy; and what men to night
Haue had resort to you: for heere haue beene
Some sixe or seuen, who did hide their faces
Euen from darknesse.
  Bru. Kneele not gentle Portia.                                                                                    920
  Por. I should not neede, if you were gentle Brutus.
Within the Bond of Marriage, tell me Brutus,
Is it excepted, I should know no Secrets
That appertaine to you? Am I your Selfe,
But as it were in sort, or limitation?                                                                                925
To keepe with you at Meales, comfort your Bed,
And talke to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the Suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus Harlot, not his Wife.
  Bru. You are my true and honourable Wife,                                                                 930
As deere to me, as are the ruddy droppes
That visit my sad heart.
  Por. If this were true, then should I know this secret.
I graunt I am a Woman; but withall,
A Woman that Lord Brutus tooke to Wife:                                                                   935
I graunt I am a Woman; but withall,
A Woman well reputed: Cato’s Daughter.                                                                                        (kk4vb)
Thinke you, I am no stronger than my Sex
Being so Father’d, and so Husbanded?
Tell me your Counsels, I will not disclose ’em:                                                               940
I haue made strong proofe of my Constancie,
Giuing my selfe a voluntary wound
Heere, in the Thigh: Can I beare that with patience,
And not my Husbands Secrets?
  Bru. O ye Gods!                                                                                                        945
Render me worthy of this Noble Wife.                                                Knocke.
Harke, harke, one knockes: Portia go in a while,
And by and by thy bosome shall partake
The secrets of my Heart.
All my engagements, I will construe to thee                                                                    950
All the Charractery of my sad browes:
Leaue me with hast.                                                                           Exit Portia.