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de, it is very apt to take a strong hold of the mind, and prevent an examination into its real merit when the judgment becomes more matured, and the taste more refined. This, indeed, is not the case with those who afterwards give a particular attention to literary pursuits; but such are a small portion of the schools.
Among the numerous selections thus made for school-boy elocution, no one is in more constant use than “ Antony's speech over the body of Caesar.” It is a universal favourite; and “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen" has been declaimed, in every variety of tone and emphasis, from the lisping baby of six years old, to the most blundering booby of a country school. It is impossible to devest this admirable pearl of genius of its beauty and interest by any want of skill in reciting it; yet there is nothing in our language which requires more discrimination, more power and exquisite taste to display all its excellence, and give its full effect. The consummate art, covered by apparent plainness and simplicity; the force of feeling raised upon common objects, resorting more to the memory than the imagination of the hearers, and overwhelming their hearts while affecting only to recal familiar facts to their recollection, and in short, the combination and essence of every ingredient that constitutes true eloquence and renders it irresistible, justly entitles this speech to the first place in the first rank of oratorical excellence. There is, I think, no oration, ancient or modern, that possesses so entirely all the powers of persuasion; and when we see within how small a compass they are contained, how great should be our admiration!
From the common use that has been made of this oration, I presume, on the principles already stated, that its excellence is not properly estimated; and that many who freely give it their applause, have not been at the pains to examine its beauties in detail, and analyse its merit with critical attention. I propose to make an attempt of this sort; not with the presumptuous hope of unfolding all its claims to admiration; but, by some observations and illustrations, to lead the scholars of Shakspeare into a habit of minutely examining, not this speech only, but every distinguished production of the immortal bard. Before I enter upon the Analysis of the Speech of Antony, let us look back, a moment, to his situation at the time it was delivered. In the Kfe of Caesar, Antony had stood in the first rank of his friends; and although his abominable licentiousness and debauchery, sometimes drew upon him mortifying testimonies of Caesar's displeasure, yet his confidence in the talents and unshaken friendship of Antony, seems never to have been diminished. In the battle which gave to Caesar the empire of the world, the post of Antony was next in importance to that of Caesar, and his conduct justified the trust. A knowledge of this mutual regard induced some of the conspirators, when marking their victims, to insist upon the fate of Antony. But Brutus, partly, perhaps, from the gene
rosity of his nature, and partly from his underrating the ability of Antony, who, he said, was “but a limb of Caesar,” and would lose all its power when the head was cut off; and who was
prevailed upon his companions to spare him. We should indeed be inclined to charge the conspirators with singular indiscretion in allowing any oration to be pronounced in honour of the man they had just assassinated ; and particularly in permitting a man of Antony's elor quence, so well beloved of Caesar,” to be the orator. The bodies of men thus disposed of are usually hurried out of the way with insult and indignity. The poet, however, needs no defence on this subject. He stands on historical truth; for although Antony never made such a speech, it is certain, that, when Caesar's body was exposed in the fo rum, he addressed the people on the subject of his death, and so powerfully too as to exasperate their passions to the highest pitch. Neither.is it unaccountable that this honour should have been allowed to the corpse of Caesar. Brutus, who headed and controlled the gang, was very desirous of being considered a gentleman assassin in this business; and as he really admired and loved Caesar, and felt not the envy and malignity of Casca, he was unwilling that any indignity should be offered to the body of his murdered benefactor, or any customary mark of respect withheld.
" Caesar shall
A funeral oration delivered by some distinguished citizen, was considered by the Romans an honour of the first importance and dignity. Pliny, the younger, speaking of the death of Virginius Rufus, one of the most fortunate and illustrious Romans of the age, who had even re,fused the crown, says, “ the Consul, Cornelius Tacitus, pronounced his funeral oration; and thus the series of his felicities was completed by the public applause of a most eloquent orator.”
To secure himself, however entirely, in granting this indulgence, Brutus makes his conditions with Antony, that he shall declare he speaks by permission of the conspirators; that he shall say nothing to blame them, but“ speak all the good he could devise of Caesar.”
When the execrable murder of Caesar was accomplished under the names of Peace, Liberty, Freedom, the usual cant of demagogues, in all ages, to cover their ambition and crimes, Antony, in the general consternation, fled to his house; but came forth upon a promise from Brutus that he should be satisfied as to the cause of Caesar's death, and“ depart untouched." Tell me if all the writings of moralists and divines contain anything that strikes deeper into the heart; anything better calculated to sink the proudest into humility, and show to the mightiest the vanity of all their painful labours, the end of all their power, than the exclamation of Antony upon his first view of the life less body of Caesar:
“O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
He then, in an admirable strain of ambiguous sarcasm, and guarded eulogium of Caesar, begs if
“ These choice and master spirits of the age,"
intend to take his life, they will do it at once, with those swords
“ made rich
“Whilst their purple hands do reek and smoke." Being assured of his safety, he shakes hands with these “master spirits," still pursuing the same strain of cutting reflections. He requests that
“ Produce the body in the market-place,
Brutus instantly promises that he shall, though opposed by Casca. It is agreed that Brutus shall first address the people in justification of the conspirators; and that Antony shall then pronounce the funeral eulogium, under the restrictions already mentioned. After this arrangement is made, Brutus proceeds to the market-place, leaving Antony to follow with the corpse.
I shall be pardoned for concluding this number with the address made by Antony to the body of his friend. It is full of pathos and horror.
0, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men ;
With carrion men, groaning for burial.” The Germans, imitated by the English, have, of late, exercised their imaginations, in framing Tales and Ballads, overflowing with images of horror and disgust. But all of them together do not furnish a specimen equal with that just recited. Can anything of this kind exceed the idea of
“ Carrion men, groaning for burial.”
(From The Athenaeum.)
MILITARY CHARACTER OF DIFFERENT NATIONS.
The French soldiers are quick, and attack with incredible rapidity; they retreat with the same rapidity, return to the charge with unabated impetuosity, and again as quickly retire. During their retreat they retain the greatest composure, and when they lose ground are not disheartened. The death of their officers produces no confusion among them. When the commanding officer falls, the next to him assumes his place, and so in succession. The inferior officers are almost all qualified to command.
The French soldier is accustomed to live in a requisitionary country sometimes as a prince and sometimes as a sans culotte. To make him perform his duty well, uniformity in living is not requisite.
A strong esprit de corps* prevails among the French troops. In the beginning of the revolution their bond of union was republican fanaticism ; at the conclusion of it la Grande Nation.
Their infantry of the line cannot be compared with the Russian ; their cavalry is very inferior to the Hungarian; and their artillery, once the best in Europe, is far from being equal to the Austrian; but their light infantry, or their tirailleurs, and their new tactics, confound all the principles of the military art which have prevailed since the time of Frederic the Great.
Austria has scarcely any light infantry; Russia has about twenty thousand; but in the French armies nearly one-third of the infantry are tirar illeurs. These take post before the troops of the line, separate into different small bodies, unite again, attack, and, after being ten times ree pulsed, will attack again. In a broken rugged country these tirailleurs prepare the way to the French for that victory which the infantry of the line completes. The incredible quickness of the French renders this corps the best of its kind in Europe.
All the principles of the new French tactics are calculated for a broken intersected country, as the old tactics were for large plains. The object of the former is to exhaust the enemy by incessant skirmishes, when he is so imprudent as to attack the light-heeled Frenchman with his whole force. These Aying bodies suffer themselves to be driven back the whole day, and towards evening a fresh body appears and decides the contest. A battle with the French may begin at sunrise, but it will not be terminated before the evening. The French troops may be beat during the day, but at night they will be the victors. Every general who does not spare his strength till the evening, must in the end be defeated by the French.
În consequence of the quickness and composure of the French soldiers, they do not readily think of surrendering; and they are able, in a manner peculiar to them alone, to extricate themselves from dangerous situations. We have seen instances where a thousand French soldiers after contending the whole day with a much larger body of the enemy, have disappeared at night like a vapour. The corps, when hard pressed, divides itself into two or three bodies, and while one occupies the enemy in an advantageous position, the other remains quiet at some distance. As soon as the first is driven back, they all run with incredible velocity, and in tolerably good order, to the place where the other is at rest. The second knows pretty exactly how long the first
* This word cannot well be translated into English. It may not improperly be defined, a laudable spirit of ambition, which produces peculiar at. tachment to any particular corps, company, or service.