Sidor som bilder

Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented,
Would run to thefe and these extremities:
And therefore think him as a ferpent's egg,
Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mifchievous;
And kill him in the fhell.

Enter Lucius.

Luc. The taper burneth in your closet, Sir:
Searching the window for a flint, I found
This paper, thus feal'd up; and, I am sure,
It did not lie there, when I went to bed.

[Gives him the letter..
Bru. Get you to bed again, it is not day :
Is not to-morrow, bov, the Ides of March? (8)
Luc. I know not, Sir.

Bru. Look in the kalendar, and bring me word.
Luc. I will, Sir.

Bru. The exhalations, whizzing in the air,
Give fo much light, that I may read by them.


[Opens the letter, and reads. Brutus, thou fleep'ft; awake, and see thyself: Shall Rome Speak, ftrike, redrefs.

(8) Is not to morrow, boy, the first of March ] I dare pronounce a palpable blunder here, which none of the editors have ever been aware of. Brutus enquires whether the firft of March be come, and the boy brings him word 'tis wafted 15 days. Allowing Brutus to be a moft contemplative man, and his thoughts taken up with high matters, yet I can never agree, that he fo little knew how time went, as to be miftaken a whole fortnight in the reckoning. I make no fcruple to affert, the Poet wrote Ides. But how could Ides, may it not be objected, be corrupted into firft? What fimilitude in the traces of the letters? This difficulty may very ea fily be folv'd, by only fuppofing that the word Ides in the manufcript copy happen'd to be wrote contractedly thus, js: The players knew the word well enough in the contraction; but when the MSS came to the prefs, the compofitors were not fo well informed in it: They knew, that jst frequently stood for firft; and blunderingly thought that js was meant to do so too : and thence was deriv'd the corruption of the text. But that the Poet wrote Ides, we have this in confirmation. Brutus makes the enquiry on the dawn of the very day, in which Cæfar was kill'd in the Capitol. Now, 'tis very well known, that this was on the 15th day, which is the Ides, of March. I ought to acknowledge, that my friend Mr. Warburton likewise ftarted this very emendation, and communicated it to me by letter.


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Brutus, thou fleep'ft: awake.

Such inftigations have been often dropt,
Where I have took them up:

Shall Rome

thus muft I piece it out,

"Shall Rome stand under one man's awe? what! Rome? "" My ancestors did from the streets of Rome

"The Tarquin drive, when he was call'd a King."

Speak, frike, redrefs


am I entreated then

To fpeak, and ftrike? O Rome! I make thee promise,
If the redrefs will follow, thou receiv't

Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!
Enter Lucius.

Luc. Sir, March is wafted fourteen days. (9)

[knocks within.

Bru. 'Tis good. Go to the gate; fomebody knocks:

[Exit Lucius.

Since Caffius first did whet me against Cæsar, (10)

I have not flept.

Between the acting of a dreadful thing,

And the first motion, all the interim is

(9) Sir, March is wafted fifteen days.] The editors are flightly miftaken: It was wafted but 14 days; this was the dawn of the 15th, when the boy makes his report.

(10) Since Caffius firft did whet me against Cæfar,

I bave not Aept.]

This is not to be taken literally: but only that it had, at fits, broke his rest. Some readers might, perhaps, imagine, that (because Brutus, in his laft Scene with Caffius, faid, that he would on the morrow ftay at home for Caffius; and because Caffius here comes home to him) this was the day immediately fucceeding that, on which Caffius open'd the fecret of the conspiracy to him. But however any circumftances in any preceding lines may countenance fuch an opinion it would be a great diminution to the fedate cha racter of Brutus, to be let into a plot of fuch ferious moment one The poet day, and to be ready to put it in execution on the next. intended no fuch rash conduct. We are to obferve, from the firft A&t, that Caffius open'd the plot to him on the Feast of the Lupersalia, which folemnity was held in February and Cæfar was not affäffin'd, as has been observ'd, till the middle of March. Some of the criticks, with what certainty I dare not pretend to fay, fix down this Feaft to the XVth before the calends of March; (i. e. the 15th of February) if fo, the interval betwixt that, and the time when Cafar was murther'd, is 29 days.


Like a phantafma, or a hideous dream:
The Genius, and the mortal inftruments
Are then in council; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, fuffers then
The nature of an infurrection.

Enter Lucius.

Luc. Sir, 'tis your brother Caffius at the door," Who doth defire to see you.

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Bru. Is he alone?

Luc. No, Sir, there are more with him.

Bru. Do you know them?

Luc. No, Sir, their hats are pluckt about their ears,

And half their faces buried in their cloaks;

That by no means I may discover them

By any mark of favour.

Bru. Let them enter.

They are the faction. O Confpiracy!

[Exit Lucius.

Sham'st thou to fhew thy dang'rous brow by night,
When Evils are most free! O then, by day,,

Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough,

To mask thy monftrous vifage? feek none, Confpiracy; Hide it in fmiles and affability:

For if thou path, thy native femblance on,

Not Erebus itself were dim enough

To hide thee from prevention.

Enter Caffius, Cafca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus,
and Trebonius.

Caf. I think, we are too bold upon your reft;
Good morrow, Brutus, do we trouble you?

Bru. I have been up this hour, awake all night. Know I these men, that come along with you? [Afide. Caf. Yes, every man of them; and no man here, But honours you: and every one doth wish,

You had but that opinion of your self,

Which every noble Roman bears of you.
This is Trebonius.

Bru. He is welcome hither.
Caf. This, Decius Brutus.




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Bru. He is welcome too.

Caf. This, Cafca; this, Cinna; And this, Metellus Cimber.

Bru. They are all welcome.

What watchful cares do interpofe themselves

Betwixt your eyes and night?

Caf. Shall I entreat a word?

[They whisper.

Dec. Here lies the Eaft: doth not the day break here? (11)

Cafca. No.

Cin. O pardon, Sir, it doth? and yon grey lines, That fret the clouds, are meffengers of day.

Cafea. You fhall confefs, that you are both deceiv'd:
Here, as I point my fword, the Sun arifes,
Which is a great way growing on the South,
Weighing the youthful feafon of the year.
Some two months hence, up higher toward the North
He first prefents his fire; and the high East
Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.

Bru. Give me your hands all over, one by one.
Caf. And let us fwear our refolution.

Bru. No, not an oath: if that the face of men,

(11) Here lies the Eaft] Mr. Rymer, in his Examination of the Tragedies of the laft Age, p. 153, has left an invidious and paltry emark on this paffage. "Here the Roman Senators, (says be) the "midnight before Cafar's death, (met in the garden of Brutus to "fettle the matter of their Confpiracy) are gazing up to the Stars, "and have no more in their heads than to wrangle about which is "the Eaft and Weft. This is directly, as Bays tells us, to fhew the "world a pattern here, how men fhould talk of business. But it "would be a wrong to the Poet, not to inform the reader, that on "the ftage the fpectators fee Brutus and Caffius all this while at "whisper together.' -I cannot help having the utmost contempt for this poor ill-judged fneer. It fhews the height of good manners and politeness in the Confpirators, while Brutus and Caffius whisper, to start any occafional topick, and talk extempore; rather than feem to liften to, or be defirous of overhearing, what Cassiu's draws Brutus afide for. And, if I am not mistaken, there is a piece of art fhewn in this whisper, which our Caviller either did not, or would not, fee into. The audience are already apprized of the fubject on which the faction meet: and therefore this whisper is an artifice to prevent the preliminaries of what they knew beforehend, being formally repeated,


The fufferance of our fouls, the time's abuse,
-If these be motives weak, break off betimes;
And ev'ry man hence to his idle bed:

So let high-fighted tyranny range on, (12)
'Till each man drop by lottery. But if these,
As I am fure they do, bear fire enough

To kindle cowards, and to steel with valour
The melting spirits of women; then, countrymen,
What need we any fpur, but our own caufe,
To prick us to redress? what other bond,
Than fecret Romans, that have fspoke the word,
And will not palter? and what other oath,
Than honefty to honefty engag'd,

That this fhall be, or we will fall for it?
Swear priefts and cowards, and men cautelous,
Old feeble carrions, and such suffering fouls
That welcome wrongs: unto bad causes, swear
Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain
The even virtue of our enterprize,

Nor th' infuppreffive mettle of our fpirits;

To think, that or our caufe, or our performance,
Did need an oath: When ev'ry drop of blood,
That ev'ry Roman bears, and nobly bears,
Is guilty of a feveral bastardy,

If he doth break the smallest particle

Of any promise that hath past from him.

Caf. But what of Cicero? fhall we found him?
I think, he will ftand very flrong with us.
Cafca. Let us not leave him out.

Cin. No, by no means.

(12) So let high-fighted tyranny] Tho' I have not disturb’d this epithet in the text, yet, I fufpect, our Poet either wrote, as Mr. Warburton hinted to me, high-fieged; or elfe, high feated. So Caffius, in the former Act, fays;

And, after this, let Cæfar feat him fure;

So in Macbeth,

And again,

and our bigh plac'd Macbeth

Shall five the lease of Nature;

Great Tyranny, lay thou thy Bafis sure.

and in many other paffages.

B. 2


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