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tus would not suffer a king in Rome; these considerations compel him to take the following resolution :
It must be by his death ; and, for my part,
I know no personal cause to spurn at him ;
But for the general. He would be crown'd:
How that might change his nature, there's the question.
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder;
And that craves wary walking : Crown him-that-
And then I grant we put a sting in him,
That at his will we may do danger with.
Th’ abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power : and to speak truth of Cæsar,
I have not known when his affections sway'd
More than his reason. But 'tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber upward turns his face :
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend. So Cæsar may;
Then lest he may, prevent.
How averse he is to the means, by which
he is to deliver his country from the danger apprehended, appears in the following words:
Since Cassius first did whet me against Cæsar,
I have not slept.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing,
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream :
The genius, and the mortal instruments,
Are then in council ; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.
Disguise and concealment are so abhorrent from the open ingenuousness of his nature, that righteous as he thinks the cause, in which he is going to engage, on hearing his friends are come to him muffled up at midnight, he cannot help breaking out in the following manner:
Sham'st thou to shew 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 monstrous visage ? Seek none, Conspiracy,
Hide it in smiles and affability ;
For if thou put thy native semblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.
Brutus rises far above his friend and associ. ate Cassius, when, with a noble disdain, he rejects his proposal of swearing to their resolution.
No, not on oath. If not the face of men,
The sufferance of our souls, the time's abuse,
If these be motives weak, break off betimes,
And ev'ry man hence to his idle bed ;
So let high-sighted tyranny rage on,
Till each man drop by lottery. But if these,
As I am sure they do, bear fire enough
To kindle cowards, and to steel with valour
The melting spirits of women ; then, countrymen,
What need we any spur, but our own cause,
To prick us to redress ? what other bond,
Than secret Romans, that have spoke the word,
And will not palter ? and what other oath,
Than honesty to honesty engag’d,
That this shall be, or we will fall for it?
Swear priests, and cowards, and men cautelous,
Old feeble carrions, and such suffering souls
That welcome wrongs : unto bad causes swear
Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain
The even virtue of our enterprise,
Nor th' insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
To think, that or our cause, or our performance,
Did need an oath ; when every drop of blood
That every Roman bears, and nobly bears,
Is guilty of a several bastardy,
If he doth break the smallest particle
Of any promise that hath past from him. Is it not wonderful to see a poor player thus ennoble the sentiments, and give full expansion to the magnanimity of the man styled the Deliverer of Rome?
Mr. Voltaire is so little sensible of the noble delicacy of this speech, that he says, the conspirators are not Romans, but a parcel of country-fellows of a former
who conspire in a tippling-house.—Surely there is no partiality in saying our author has given to Brutus Roman sentiments, with a tincture of the Platonic philosophy ; and,
besides these more general characteristics, has added many nice touches, which specify his personal qualities. We behold on the stage the Marcus Brutus cf Plutarch rendered more amiable and more interesting. A peculiar gentleness of manners, and delicacy of mind, distinguish him from all the other conspirators; and we cannot refuse to concur with the confession of his enemies, and the words of Antony.
This was the noblest Roman of them all :
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Cæsar ;
He, only, in a general honest thought,
And common good to all, made one of them.
Ilis life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up,
And say to all the world, This was a man!
The following soliloquy, prophetic of the civil war, subsequent to the death of Cæsar, spoken by Antony addressing himself to the dead body, is sublime and solemn.
O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,