William Shakespeare.

The dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 6) online

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VOL. VI. 1




IT appears from the Appendix to Peck s Memoirs of Oliver Cromwell,
&c. p. 14, that a Latin play on this subject had been written : " Epilogus
Cffisari interfecti, quomodo in scenam prodiit ea res acta, in Ecclesia
Christi, Oxon. Q,ui epilogus a Magistro Ricardo Eedes, et scriptus, et
in proscenio ibidem clictus fait, A. D. 1582." Meres, in his Wits Com
monwealth, 1598, enumerates Dr. Eedes among the best tragic writers of
that time.

From what Polonius says in Hamlet, it seems probable that there was
also an English play on the story before Shakspeare commenced writer
for the stage. Stephen Gosson, inliis School of Abuse, 1579, mentions a
play entitled The History of Csesar and Pompey.

William Alexander, afterwards earl of Sterline, wrote a tragedy of
the story of Julius Caesar: the death of Csesar, which is not exhibited, but
related to the audience, forms the catastrophe of his piece, which appeared
in 1G07, when the writer was little acquainted with English writers : it
abounds with Scotticisms, which the author corrected in the edition he
gave of his works in 1G37. There are parallel passages in the two plays,
which may have arisen from the two authors drawing from the same
source ; but there is reason to think the coincidences more than acci
dental, and that Shakspeare was acquainted with the drama of lord
Sterline. The celebrated passage, "The cloud-capt towers," &c., had
its prototype in Darius, another play of the same author.

ft should be remembered that Shakspeare has many plays founded on
subjects which had been previously treated by others ; whereas no proof
has hitherto been produced that any contemporary writer ever presumed to
new-model a story that had already employed the pen of Shakspeare. If
the conjecture that Shakspeare Avas indebted to lord Sterline be just, his
drama must have been produced subsequent to 1007, or at latest in that
year; which is the date ascribed to it, upon these grounds, by Malone.

Upton has remarked that the real duration of time in Julius Caesar is
as follows : About the middle of February, A. U. C. 709, a frantic festival
sacred to Pan, and called Lupcrcalict, was held in honor of Caesar, when


the regal crown was offered to him by Antony. On the 15th of March in
the same year, he was slain. November 27th, A. U. C. 710, the triumvirs
met at a small island, formed by the river Rhenus, near Bononia, and there
adjusted their cruel proscription. A. U. C. 711, Brutus and Cassius were
defeated near Philippi.

(ill don long ago remarked that Brutus was the true hero of this
tragedy, and not Caesar ; Schlegel makes the same observation : the Poci
lias portrayed the character of Brutus with peculiar care, and developed
all the amiable traits, the feeling, and patriotic heroism of it, with super-
eminent skill. He has been less happy in personifying Csesar, to Avhom
lie has given several ostentatious speeches, unsuited to his character, if
we may judge from the impression made upon us by his own Commen
taries. The character of Cassius is also touched with great nicety and
discrimination, and is admirably contrasted to that of Brutus : his supe
riority " in independent volition, and his discernment in judging of human
affairs, are pointed out ; " while the purity of mind and conscientious love
of justice in Brutus, unfit him to be the head of a party in a state entirely
corrupted ; these amiable failings give, in fact, an unfortunate turn to the
cause of the conspirators. The play abounds in well- wrought and affect
ing scenes: it is scarcely necessary to mention the celebrated dialogue
between Brutus and Cassius, in which the design of the conspiracy is
opened to Brutus ; the quarrel between them, rendered doubly touching
by the close, when Cassius learns the death of Portia ; and which one is
surprised to think that any critic, susceptible of feeling, should pronounce
" cold and unaffecting ; " the scene between Brutus and Portia, where she
endeavors to extort the secret of the conspiracy from him, in which is
that heart-thrilling burst of tenderness, which Portia s heroic behavior

" You are my true and honorable wife,

As dear to me as are -the ruddy drops

That visit my sad heart."

Thn speeches of Mark Antony over the dead body of Caesar, and the
artful eloquence with which he captivates the multitude, are justly classed
among the happiest effusions of poetic declamation.

There are also those touches of nature interspersed, which we should
seek in vain in the works of any other poet. In the otherwise beautiful
scene with Lucius, an incident of this kind is introduced, which, though
wholly immaterial to the plot or conduct of the scene, is perfectly con
genial to the character of the agent, and beautifully illustrative of it. The
sedate and philosophic Brutus, discomposed a little by the stupendous
rares upon his mind, forgets where he had left his book of recreation :

" Look, Lucius, here s the book I sought for so."


Another passage of the same kind, and of eminent beauty, is to be
found in the scene where the conspirators assemble at the house of
Brutus at midnight Brutus, welcoming them all, says

" What watchful cares do interpose themselves
Betwixt your eyes and night ?

Cassias. Shall I entreat a word ? [They whisper.]

Decius. Here lies the east: doth not the day break here?

Casca. No.

Cinna. O pardon, sir, it doth ; and yon gray lines,
That fret the clouds, are messengers of day.

Casca. You shall confess, that you are both deceived
Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises;
Which is a great way growing on the south,
Weighing the youthful season of the year.
Some two months hence, up higher toward the north
He first presents his fire ; and the high east
Stands as the Capitol, directly here."

It is not only heroic manners and incidents which the all-powerful pen
of Shakspeare has expressed with great historic truth in this play ; he has
entered with no less penetration into the manners of the factious plebeians,
and has exhibited here, as well as in Coriolanus, the manners of a Roman
mob. How could Johnson say, that " his adherence to the real story, and
to Roman manners, seems to have impeded the natural vigor of his
genius " !



MARCUS ANTONIUS, > Triumvirs after the death of Julius Caesar.

Conspirators against Julius Caesar.















ARTEMIDORUS, a Sophist of Cnidos.

A Soothsayer.

CINNA, a Poet. Another Poet.


Friends to Brutus and Cassius.

to Brutus.
PINDARUS, Servant to Cassius.

CALPIIURNIA, Wife to Caesar.
PORTIA, Wife to Brutus.

Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, <$*c.

SCENE, during a great part of the Play, at Rome ; afterwards at
Sardis, and near Philippi.



SCENE 1. Rome. A Street.

Enter FLAVIUS, MARULLUS, and a rabble of Citizens.

Flavins. HENCE ; home, you idle creatures, get you

home ;

Is this a holiday ? What ! know you not,
Being mechanical, you ought not walk,
Upon a laboring day, without the sign
Of your profession ? Speak, what trade art thou ?

1 Cit. Why, sir, a carpenter.

Mar. Where is thy leather apron, and thy rule ?
What dost thou with thy best apparel on ?
You, sir ; what trade are you ?

2 Cit. Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, 1
am but, as you would say, a cobbler.

Mar. But what trade art thou ? Answer me directly.

2 Cit. A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a
safe conscience ; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad

Mar. What trade, thou knave ; thou naughty knave,
what trade ?

2 Cit. Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me ;
yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.

Mar. What mean st thou by that ? Mend me, thou
saucy fellow ?

2 Cit. Why, sir, cobble you.

Flav. Thou art a cobbler, art thou ?

2 Cit. Truly, sir, all that I live by is, with the awl:


I meddle with no tradesman s matters, nor women s
matters, but with awl. I am indeed, sir, a surgeon to
old shoes ; when they are in great danger, I recover
them. As proper men as ever trod upon neat s leather
have gone upon my handy work.

Flav. But wherefore art not in thy shop to-day ?
Why dost thou lead these men about the streets ?

2 Cit. Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself
into more work. But, indeed, sir, we make holiday, to
see Caesar, and to rejoice in his triumph.

Mar. Wherefore rejoice ? What conquest brings he

home ?

What tributaries follow him to Rome,
To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels ?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
O, you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
Knew you not Pompey ? Many a time and oft
Have you climbed up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
The live-long day, with patient expectation,
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome ;
And when you saw his chariot but appear,
Have you not made an universal shout,
That Tyber trembled underneath her banks,
To hear the replication of your sounds,
Made in her concave shores ?
And do you now put on your best attire ?
And do you now cull out a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way,
That comes in triumph over Pompey s blood ?
Be gone ;

Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.

Flav. Go, go, good countrymen, and, for this fault,
Assemble all the poor men of your sort ; *
Draw them to Tyber banks, and weep your tears

1 Condition, rank.


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

[Exeunt Citizens.

See, whe r 1 their basest metal be not moved ;
They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness.
Go you down that way towards the Capitol ;
This way will I. Disrobe the images,
If you do find them decked with ceremonies. 2

Mar. May w r e do so ?
You know it is the feast of Lupercal.

Flav. It is no matter ; let no images
Be hung with Caesar s trophies. 3 I ll about,
And drive away the vulgar from the streets ;
So do you too, where you perceive them thick.
These growing feathers plucked from Caesar s wing,
Will make him fly an ordinary pitch ;
Who else would soar above the view of men,
And keep us all in servile fearfulness. [Exeunt.

SCENE II. The same. A public Place.

Enter, in procession, with music, CAESAR, ANTON Y,ybr
BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA, a great crowd follow
ing, among them a Soothsayer.

Cces. Calphurnia,

Casca. Peace, ho ! Caesar speaks.

[Music ceases.

Cces. Calphurnia,

Cal. Here, my lord.

1 Whether.

2 Honorary ornaments.

3 These trophies were scarfs.

4 This person was not Dem/,?, but Decimus Brutus. The Poet (as Vol
taire has done since) confounds the characters of Marcus and Decimus.
Decimus Brutus was tho most cherished by Caesar of all his friends, while
Marcus kept aloof. The error has its source in North s translation of
Plutarch, or in Holland s Suetonius, 1GOG.

VOL. VI. 2


Cces. Stand you directly in Antonius way, 1
When he doth run his course. Antonius !

Ant. Caesar, my lord !

Cces. Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calphurnia ; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.

Ant. I shall remember ;

When Caesar says, Do this, it is performed.

Cces. Set on ; and leave no ceremony out. [Music.

Sooth. Caesar!

Cces. Ha ! who calls ?

Casca. Bid every noise be still. Peace yet again.

[Music ceases.

Cces. Who is it in the press that calls on me ?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry, Caesar. Speak ; Caesar is turned to hear.

Sooth. Beware the ides of March.

Cces. What man is that ?

Bru. A soothsayer, bids you beware the ides of

Cces. Set him before me ; let me see his face.

Cas. Fellow, come from the throng. Look upon

Cces. What say st thou to me now ? Speak once

Sooth. Beware the ides of March.

Cces. He is a dreamer ; let us leave him ; pass.

[Sennet.* Exeunt all but BRU. and CAS.

Cas. Will you go see the order of the course ?

Bru. Not I.

Cas. I pray you, do.

Bru. I am not gamesome ; I do lack some part
Of that quick spirit that is in Antony.
Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires ;
I ll leave you.

1 The old copy reads " Antonio s way ; " in other places we have
Octavio, Flavio. The players were more accustomed to Italian than
Latin terminations. The allusion is to a custom at the Lupercalia.

2 See King Henry VIII. Act ii. Sc. 4.


Cus. Brutus, 1 do observe you now ot late.
I have not from your eyes that gentleness,
And show of love, as I was wont to have ;
You hear too stubborn and too strange a hand


Over your friend that loves you.

Bru. Cassius,

Be not deceived ; if I have veiled my look,
I turn the trouble of my countenance
Merely upon myself. Vexed I am,
Of late, with passions of some difference,
Conceptions only proper to myself,
Which give some soil, perhaps, to my behaviors;
But let not therefore my good friends be grieved,
(Among which number, Cassius, be you one,)
Nor construe any further my neglect,
Than that poor Brutus, with himself at war,
Forgets the shows of lov<; to other men.

Cas. Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your pas

sion, 1

By means whereof, this breast of mine hath buried
Thoughts of great value, worthy cogitations.
Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face ?

Bru. No, Cassius ; for the eye sees not itself,
But by reflection, by some other things.

Cas. Tis just ;

And it is very much lamented, Brutus,
That you have no such mirrors, as will turn
Your hidden worthiness into your eye,
That you might see your shadow. I have heard,
Where many of the best respect in Rome,
(Except immortal Cresar,) speaking of Brutus,
And groaning underneath this age s yoke,
Have wished that noble Brutus had his eyes.

Bru. Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius,
That you would have me seek into myself
For that which is not in me ?

Cas. Therefore, good Brutus, be prepared to hear ;
And, since you know you cannot see yourself

1 i. e. the nature of the feelings which you are now suffering.


So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.
And be not jealous of me, gentle Brutus.
Were I a common laugher, or did use
To stale 1 with ordinary oaths my love
To every new protester ; if you know
That I do fawn on men, and hug them hard,
And after scandal them ; or if you know
That I profess myself in banqueting
To all the rout, then hold me dangerous.

[Flourish and shout.

Bru. What means this shouting? I do fear the

Choose Caesar for their king.

Cas. Ay, do you fear it ?

Then must I think you would not have it so.

Bru. I would not, Cassius ; yet I love him well.
But wherefore do you hold me here so long ?
What is it that you would impart to me ?
If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honor in one eye, and death i the other,
And I will look on both indifferently ;
For, let the gods so speed me, as I love
The name of honor more than I fear death.

Cas. I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
As well as I do know your outward favor.
Well, honor is the subject of my story.
1 cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life ; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be, as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Caesar ; so were you.
We both have fed as well ; and we can both
Endure the winter s cold as well as he.
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tyber chafing with her shores,

1 Johnson has erroneously given the meaning of allurement to .9/r//e, in
this place. " To stale with ordinary oaths my love," is " to prostitute my

SC. 11.] JULIUS C->ESAR. 13

Ciesur said to me, Dar st thou, Cassius, now

Leap in with me into this angry flood,

And swim to yonder point ? Upon the word,

Accoutered as I was, I plunged in,

And bade him follow ; so, indeed, he did.

The torrent roared ; and we did buffet it

With lusty sinews ; throwing it aside,

And stemming it with hearts of controversy.

But ere we could arrive 1 the point proposed,

Ciesar cried, Help me, Cassius, or I sink.

\, as ^Eneas, our great ancestor,

Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder

The old Anchises bear, so, from the waves of Tyber,

Did I the; tired C?esar. And this man

Is now become a god ; and Cassius is

A wretched creature, and must bend his body,

If Ciesar carelessly but nod on him.

lie had a fever when he was in Spain,

And, when the fit was on him, I did mark

How he did shake. Tis true, this god did shake :

His coward lips did from their color fly ; 2

And that same eye, whose bend doth awe the world,

Did lose his lustre. I did hear him groan ;

Ay, and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans

Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,

Alas ! it cried, Give me some drink, Titinius ;

As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me,

A man of such a feeble temper 3 should

So get the start of the majestic world,

And bear the palm alone. [Shout. Flourish.

Bra. Another general shout !
I do believe that these applauses are
For some new honors that are heaped on Coesar.

Cas. Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world,
Like a Colossus; and wo petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.

1 The verb arrive is also used by Milton without the preposition.

~ Some commentators suppose that the allusion here is to a coward s
desertion of his standard. Probably nothing more was intended than to
describe the effect of the disease on the appearance of the lips.

3 Temperament, constitution.


Men at some time are masters of their fates :

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Brutus, and Caesar ! what should be in that Caesar ?

Why should that name be sounded more than yours ?

Write them together, yours is as fair a name ;

Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well ;

Weigh them, it is as heavy ; conjure with them,

Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar. [Shout.

Now, in the names of all the gods at once,

Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,

That he is grown so great ? Age, thou art shamed !

Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods !

When went there by an age, since the great flood,

But it was famed with more than with one man ?

When could they say, till now, that talked of Rome,

That her wide walls 1 encompassed but one man ?

Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough,

When there is in it but one only man.

! you and I have heard our fathers say,

There was a Brutus 9 once, that would have brooked
The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome,
As easily as a king.

Bru. That you do love me, I am nothing jealous ;
What you would work me to, I have some aim ; 3
HOW T I have thought of this, and of these times,

1 shall recount hereafter ; for this present,

I would not, so with love I might entreat you,

Be any further moved. AVhat you have said,

I will consider ; what you have to say,

I will with patience hear; and find a time

Both meet to hear, and answer, such high things.

Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this; 4

Brutus had rather be a villager,

Than to repute himself a son of Rome,

Under these hard conditions as 5 this time

Is like to lay upon us.

1 The first folio reads icalks.

2 " Lucius Junius Brutus." ^ i. e. guess. 4 Ruminate on this.

5 ..#.?, according to Tooke, is an article, and means the same as ///a/,
ivhich, or it ; accordingly we find it often so employed by old writers, and
particularly in our excellent version of the Bible.


Cas. I am glad that my weak words
Have struck but thus much show of fire from Brutus.

Re-enter C^SAR and his Train.

Bnt. The games are done, and Caesar is returning

Cas. As they pass by, pluck Casca by the sleeve ;
And he will, after his sour fashion, tell you
What hath proceeded, worthy note, to-day.

Bru. I will do so. But, look you, Cassius,
The angry spot doth glow on Caesar s brow,
And all the rest look like a chidden train.
Calphurnia s cheek is pale ; and Cicero
Looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes,
As we have seen him in the Capitol,
Being crossed in conference by some senators.

Cas. Casca will tell us what the matter is.

Cccs. Antonius,

Ant. Caesar.

Cccs. Let me have men about me that are fat ;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look ;
He thinks too much ; such men are dangerous.

Ant. Fear him not, Caesar; he s not dangerous;
He is a noble Roman, and well given.

Cccs. 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 soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much ;
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony : he hears no music :
Seldom he smiles ; and smiles in such a sort,
As if he mocked himself, and scorned his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart s ease,
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves ;
And therefore are they very dangerous.
I rather tell thee what is to be feared,
Than what I fear, for always I am Caesar.


Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf,
And tell me truly what thou think st of him.

[Exeunt CAESAR and his Train. CASCA
stays behind.

Casca. You pulled me by the cloak ; would you
speak with me ?

Bru. Ay, Casca ; tell us what hath chanced to-day,
That Caesar looks so sad.

Casca. Why, you were with him, were you not ?

Bru. I should not then ask Casca what hath

Casca. Why, there was a crown offered him ; and
being offered him, he put it by with the back of his
hand, thus ; and then the people fell a shouting.

Bru. What was the second noise for ?

Casca. Why, for that too.

Cas. They shouted thrice ; what was the last cry
for ?

Casca. Why, for that too.

Bru. Was the crown offered him thrice ?

Casca. Ay, marry, was t ; and he put it by thrice,
every time gentler than other ; and at every putting by,
mine honest neighbors shouted.

Cas. Who offered him the crown ?

Casca. Why, Antony.

Bru. Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca.

Casca. I can as well be hanged, as tell the manner
of it ; it was mere foolery. I did not mark it. I saw
Mark Antony offer him a crown ; yet twas not a crown
neither ; twas one of these coronets ; and, as I told
you, he put it by once ; but, for all that, to my thinking,
he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him
again; then he put it by again; but, to my thinking,
he was very loath to lay his fingers off it. And then
lie offered it the third time ; he put it the third time
by ; and still, as he refused it, the rabblement hooted,
and clapped their chapped hands, and threw up their
sweaty night-caps, and uttered such a deal of stinking
breath because Caesar refused the crown, that it had
almost choked Caesar ; for he swooned, and fell down


at it. And for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for
fear of opening my lips, and receiving the bad air.

Cas. But, soft, I pray you ; what? did Caesar swoon?

Casca. He fell down in the market-place, and foamed
at mouth, and was speechless.

Bru. Tis very like, he hath the falling-sickness.

Cas. No, Caesar hath it not ; but you, and 1,

Online LibraryWilliam ShakespeareThe dramatic works of William Shakspeare... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected (Volume 6) → online text (page 1 of 35)