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2005. f. 34.




(1564-1616.) BORN at Stratford-on-Avon, in Warwickshire. The house in which he was born still standing. Educated at the Stratford Grammar School. Married when only eighteen years of age, and was compelled, either by the wants of his family or the fear of punishment for deer-stealing, to leave his native town for London, about the year 1586. It is said that he earned his living in London for some time by holding horses at the door of the theatre. However this may be, he soon became one of the proprietors of the theatre, and commenced his unrivalled career as a dramatic writer and poet. He realised a fortune, was specially noticed by Queen Elizabeth, and, having bought a house and land at his native Stratford, he retired there in 1612. Died in 1616, and was buried in Stratford Church.

Shakspere's dramatic works are thirty-seven in number, and are usually divided into tragedies, comedies, and historical plays. The great tragedies are, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. The chief comedies are, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and All's Well that Ends Well. Among the historical plays, the finest perhaps are, Julius Cæsar, Coriolanus, Richard II., Richard III., and Henry VIII.


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd? with their bones :

i Cæsar's body. Julius Cæsar was assassinated, 44 B.C., by a band of conspirators, at the head of whom were Brutus and Cassius. Mark Antony was Cæsar's warmest friend.

2 interred, buried.

So let it be with Cæsar. Noble Brutus?
Hath told you Cæsar was ambitious ;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Cæsar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest
(For Brutus is an honourable man,
So are they all, all honourable men),
Come I to speak in Cæsar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms? did the general coffers 3 fill;
Did this in Cæsar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Cæsar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that, on the Lupercal,
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. "Was this ambition ?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke ;
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?
Oh, judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason ! Bear with me:
My heart is in the fin there with Cæsar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
But yesterday, the word of Cæsar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence.

1 Brutus, a noble Roman, who, thinking that Cæsai aimed at making himself king, conspired to murder him.

2 Ransom, the sum paid for the release of a captive. 3 Coffer, a chest for holding money:

4 Lupercal, a place at the foot of Mount Aventine, one of the seven hills of Rome, where festivals called Lupercalia were yearly celebrated.

Withholds, forbids.

Oh, masters! if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius? wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men.
I will not do them wrong: I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here's a parchment” with the seal of Cæsar:
I found it in his closet ;3 'tis his will.
Let but the commons hear this testament
(Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read),
And they would go and kiss dead Cæsar's wounds,
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood;
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.5
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle. I remember
The first time ever Cæsar put it on;
'Twas on a summer's evening in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii.
Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through ;
See, what a rent the envious Casca? made !
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed;
And, as he plucked his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Cæsar followed it!
As rushing out of doors to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knocked or no!
For Brutus, as you know, was Cæsar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Cæsar loved him!
This was the worst, unkindest cut of all:
For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,

i Cassius, Brutus's brother-in-law, and the originator of the plot against Cæsar. ? Parchment, the skin of a goat or sheep prepared for writing on. 3 Closet, a small private room. 4 Bequeath, to leave by will. 5 Issue, children.

6 Nervii, a warlike tribe, who inhabited a part of what is now called Belgium.

7 Casca, one of the conspirators, and the one who gave the first blow.

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