Page images

sends her two Consuls, and puts forth all her strength by land and sea, as if a Pyrrhus or a Hannibal were on her borders!

Envoys of Rome! To Lentulus and Gellius bear this message: "Their graves are measured!" Look on that narrow stream, a silver thread, high on the mountain's side! Slenderly it winds, but soon is swelled by others meeting it, until a torrent, terrible and strong, it sweeps to the abyss, where all is ruin. So Spartacus comes on! So swells his force, small and despised at first, but now resistless! On, on to Rome we come! The gladiators come! Let Opulence tremble in all his palaces! Let Oppression shudder to think the oppressed may have their turn! Let Cruelty turn pale at thought of redder hands than his! O! we shall not forget Rome's many les sons. She shall not find her training was all wasted upon indocile pupils. Now, begone! Prepare the Eternal City for our games!

[ocr errors]


WHEREFORE rejoice that Cæsar comes in triumph?
What conquest brings he home?

What tributaries follow him to Rome,
To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
O, you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome!
Knew ye not Pompey? Many a time and oft
Have you climbed up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
The life-long day, with patient expectation,
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome;
And when you saw his chariot but appear,
Have you not made an universal shout,
That Tiber trembled underneath her banks
To hear the replication of your sounds,
Made in her concave shores?

And do you now put on your best attire?
And do you now cull out a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way,
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?
Begone! Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the Gods to intermit the plague

That needs must light on this ingratitude!


ROMANS, Countrymen, and lovers! Hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honor; and bav? respect to mine honor, that you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom; and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If

there be any in this assembly,—any dear friend of Cæsar's,-to him! say, that Brutus' love to Cæsar was not less than his. If, then, that friend demand why Brutus rose against Cæsar, this is my answer : Not that I loved Cæsar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Cæsar were living, and die all slaves, than that Cæsar were dead, to live all freemen? As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him; but as he was ambitious, I slew him. There are tears, for his love; joy, for his fortune; honor, for his valor; and death, for his ambition! Who is here so base, that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude, that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

None? Then none have I offended. I have done no more to Cæsar than you shall do to Brutus. The question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy; nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered death.

Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony; who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth: As which of you shall not? With this I depart: That, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need iny death.

[ocr errors]

26. MARK ANTONY TO THE PEOPLE, ON CÆSAR'S DEATH.-Shakspeare. 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 interréd with their bones:
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 Caesar answered it!
Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest
For Brutus is an honorable man!
So are they all! all honorable 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 honorable man!

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers 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 Bratus is an honorable 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 honorable 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?
O judgment thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason! Bear with me:
My heart is in the coffin 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!

O 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 honorable men!
I will not do them wrong: I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honorable men!
But here's a parchment with the seal of Cæsar,
I found it in his closet, - 't is 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 Caesar'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!

[ocr errors]

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:

'T was 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-belovéd Brutus stabbed!
And, as he plucked his curséd 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 Caesar's angel;

Judge, O ye Gods, how dearly Cæsar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all!
For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue,
Which all the while ran blood! - great Cæsar fell!
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I, and you, and all of us, fell down;
Whilst bloody treason flourished over us!
O, now you weep; and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity: these are gracious drops!
Kind souls! what! weep you when you but behold
Our Cæsar's vesture wounded? - look you here!
Here is himself, marred, as you see, by traitors!

Good friends! sweet friends! let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny!

They that have done this deed are honorable!
What private griefs they have, alas! I know not,
That made them do it: they are wise and honorable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.

I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Brutus is;

But, as you know me all, a plain, blunt man,


That love my friend, — and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him,
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood: I only speak right on.

I tell you that which you yourselves do know ;
Show you sweet Cæsar's wounds,-poor, poor, dumb months
And bid them speak for me. But, were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Cæsar, that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny!


My sentence is for open war of wiles,
More unexpert, I boast not them let those
Contrive who need, or when they need; not now,
For, while they sit contriving, shall the rest,
Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait
The signal to ascend, sit lingering here
Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place

Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame,
The prison of His tyranny who reigns
By our delay? No, let us rather choose,
Armed with hell-flames and fury, all at once
O'er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against the Torturer; when to meet the noise
Of His almighty engine He shall hear
Infernal thunder; and, for lightning, see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among His angels; and His Throne itself
Mixed with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
The way seems difficult and steep, to scale
With upright wing against a higher foe.
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That in our proper motion we ascend
Up to our native seat: descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce Foe hung on our broken rear
Insulting, and pursued us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We sank thus low? The ascent is easy, then :-
The event is feared: should we again provoke
Our Stronger, some worse way His wrath may find
To our destruction; if there be in hell

Fear to be worse destroyed. What can be worse
Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemned,
In this abhorréd deep, to utter woe,
Where pain of unextinguishable fire
Must exercise us without hope of end,
The vassals of His anger, when the scourge
Inexorable and the torturing hour

Call us to penance? More destroyed than thus,
We should be quite abolished, and expire.
What fear we, then? What doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged,
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential, happier far,
Than miserable to have eternal being;-
Or, if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are, at worst,
On this side nothing: and by proof we feel
Our power sufficient to disturb His Heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, His fatal Throne:
Which, if not victory is yet revenge.

« PreviousContinue »