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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.
Gildon long ago remarked that Brutus was the true hero of this tragedy, and not Cæsar; Schlegel makes the same observation: the Poet has portrayed the character of Brutus with peculiar care, and developed all the amiable traits, the feeling, and patriotic heroism of it, with supereminent skill. He has been less happy in personifying Cæsar, to whom he has given several ostentatious speeches, unsuited to his character, if we may judge from the impression made upon us by his own Commentaries. The character of Cassius is also touched with great nicety and discrimination, and is admirably contrasted to that of Brutus: his superiority "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 affecting 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 awakens-
"You are my true and honorable wife,
The speeches of Mark Antony over the dead body of Cæsar, 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 congenial to the character of the agent, and beautifully illustrative of it. The sedate and philosophic Brutus, discomposed a little by the stupendous cares 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?
Cassius. Shall I⚫entreat a word? [They whisper.]
Decius. Here lies the east: doth not the day break here?
Cinna. O pardon, sir, it doth; and yon gray lines,
Casca. You shall confess, that you are both deceived
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
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 Cæsar. M. ÆMIL. LEpidus,
CICERO, PUBLIUS, POPILIUS LENA, Senators.
Conspirators against Julius Cæsar.
FLAVIUS and MARULLUS, Tribunes.
ARTEMIDORUS, a Sophist of Cnidos.
CINNA, a Poet. Another Poet.
LUCILIUS, TITINIUS, MESSALA, young CATO, and VOLUMNIUS, Friends to Brutus and Cassius.
VARRO, CLITUS, CLAUDIUS, STRATO, LUCIUS, DARDANIUS, Servants
PINDARUS, Servant to Cassius.
CALPHURNIA, Wife to Cæsar.
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. Flavius. HENCE; home, you idle creatures, get you home;
Is this a holiday? What! know you not,
Of your profession? Speak, what trade art thou?
Mar. Where is thy leather apron, and thy rule?
2 Cit. Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I 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 soles.
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.
Mend me, thou
Mar. What mean'st thou by that? saucy fellow?
2 Cit. Why, sir, cobble you.
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 Cæsar, 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?
And do you now put on your best attire?
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Flav. Go, go, good countrymen, and, for this fault, Assemble all the poor men of your sort;1 Draw them to Tyber banks, and weep your tears
1 Condition, rank.