Page images
PDF
EPUB

SCENE III.

The same.

A Street.

2

Thunder and Lightning. Enter, from opposite sides,

CASCA, with his sword drawn, and CICERO.
Cic. Good even, Casca: Brought you Cæsar

home 1 ? Why are you breathless? and why stare you so ? Casca. Are not you mov’d, when all the

sway

of earth Shakes, like a thing unfirm? O Cicero, I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds Have riv'd the knotty oaks; and I have seen The ambitious ocean swell, and rage, and foam, To be exalted with the threat’ning clouds : But never till to-night, never till now, Did I go through a tempest dropping fire. Either there is a civil strife in heaven; Or else the world, too saucy with the gods, Incenses them to send destruction.

Cic. Why, saw you any thing more wonderful? Casca. A common slave 3 (you know him well

by sight), Held

up

his left hand, which did flame and burn Like twenty torches join'd; and yet his hand, Not sensible of fire, remain’d unscorch’d. Besides (I have not since put up my sword), Against the Capitol I met a lion,

1 Did you attend Cæsar home.' So in Measure for Mea

sure:

· That we may bring you something on the way.' 2 • The whole weight or momentum of this globe.'

3. A slave of the souldiers that did cast a marvellous burning flame out of his hande, insomuch as they that saw it thought he had been burnt; but when the fire was out, it was found that he had no hurt.'--North's Plutarch.

Who glar'd upon me, and went surly by,
Without annoying me! And there were drawn
Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,
Transformed with their fear; who swore, they saw
Men, all in fire, walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday, the bird of night did sit,
Even at noon-day, upon the market-place,
Hooting, and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say,
These are their reasons,They are natural;
For, I believe they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.

Cic. Indeed, it is a strange-disposed time:
But men may construe things after their fashion,
Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
Comes Cæsar to the Capitol to-morrow?

Casca. He doth; for he did bid Antonius Send word to you, he would be there to-morrow.

Cic. Good night then, Casca: this disturbed sky Is not to walk in. Casca. Farewell, Cicero.

[Exit CICERO. Enter CASSIUS. Cas. Who's there? Casca.

A Roman.

4 The old copies erroneously read :

* Who glazd upon me.'Malone determined obstinately to oppose himself to Steevens's judicious reading of glar'd, and reads, with less propriety and probability, gaz'd. Steevens has clearly shown from the poet's own works that his emendation is the true one.

Mr. Boswell made a quotation from King James's translation of the Urania of Du Bartas, in which he found the word glaise (i. e. glose), which he professed not to understand ; but supposed it might support the original reading. He was too well acquainted with the old Scottish and old English writers to fall often into such mistakes.

Altogether, entirely.

5

Cas.

Casca, by your voice.
Casca. Your ear is good. Cassius, what night

is this?
Cas. A very pleasing night to honest men.
Casca. Who ever knew the heavens menace so ?
Cas. Those, that have known the earth so full of

faults.
For my part, I have walk'd about the streets,
Submitting me unto the perilous night:
And, thus unbraced, Casca, as you see,
Have bar'd my

bosom to the thunder-stone 6:
And, when the cross blue lightning seem'd to open
The breast of heaven, I did present myself
Even in the aim and very flash of it.
Casca. But wherefore did you so much tempt

the heavens?
It is the part of men to fear and tremble,
When the most mighty gods, by tokens, send
Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.

Cas. You are dull, Casca; and those sparks of life That should be in a Roman,

you

do want,
Or else you use not: You look pale, and gaze,
And put on fear, and cast yourself in wonder,
To see the strange impatience of the heavens:
But if

you

would consider the true cause, Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts, Why birds, and beasts, from quality and kind; Why old men, fools, and children calculate?;

[ocr errors]

6 What is now, in modern language, called a thunder-bolt.

? i.e. why birds and beasts deviate from their condition and nature; why old men, fools, and children calculate ;' i. e. foretel or prophesy. At the suggestion of Sir William Blackstone this last line has been erroneously pointed in all the late editions:

"Why old men fools, and children calculate.' He observed, that there was no prodigy in old men's calculating; but who were so likely to listen to prophecies as children, fools, and the superstitious eld ?'

Why all these things change, from their ordinance,
Their natures, and preformed faculties,
To monstrous quality; why, you shall find,
That heaven hath infus'd them with these spirits,
To make them instruments of fear, and warning,
Unto some monstrous state. Now could I, Casca,
Name to thee a man most like this dreadful night;
That thunders, lightens, opens graves,

and roars
As doth the lion in the Capitol:
A man no mightier than thyself, or me,
In personal action; yet prodigious 8 grown,
And fearful, as these strange eruptions are.
Casca. 'Tis Cæsar that you mean: Is it not,

Cassius? Cas. Let it be who it is: for Romans now Have thewes 9 and limbs like to their ancestors; But, woe the while! our fathers’ minds are dead, And we are govern’d with our mothers' spirits ; Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.

Casca. Indeed, they say, the senators to-morrow Mean to establish Cæsar as a king: And he shall wear his crown by sea and land, In every place, save here in Italy.

Cas. I know where I will wear this dagger then; Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius : Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong; Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat: Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, Can be retentive to the strength of spirit; But life, being weary of these worldly bars, Never lacks power to dismiss itself. If I know this, know all the world besides,

8 Portentous.

9 i.e. sinews, muscular strength. See note on King Henry IV. Part II. Act iii. Sc, 2.

That part of tyranny, that I do bear,
I can shake off at pleasure.
Casca.

So can I:
So
every

bondman in his own hand bears The power to cancel his captivity 10.

Cas. And why should Cæsar be a tyrant then? Poor man! I know, he would not be a wolf, But that he sees the Romans are but sheep: He were no lion, were not Romans hinds. Those that with haste will make a mighty fire, Begin it with weak straws: What trash is Rome, What rubbish, and what offal, when it serves For the base matter to illuminate So vile a thing as Cæsar? But, O, grief! Where hast thou led me? I, perhaps, speak this Before a willing bondman: then I know My answer must be made 11: But I am arm’d, And dangers are to me indifferent.

Casca. You speak to Casca; and to such a man, That is no fleering tell-tale. Hold

my

hand:
Be factious 12 for redress of all these griefs;
And I will set this foot of mine as far,
As who goes farthest.
Cas.

There's a bargain made.
Now know you, Casca, I have mov'd already
Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans,
To undergo, with me, an enterprize

10 Thus in Cymbeline, Act v. Posthumus, speaking of his chains :

take this life, And cancel these cold bonds.' 11 • I know I shall be called to account, and must answer for having uttered seditious words.' So in Much Ado about Nothing :- Sweet prince, let me go no further to mine answer ; do you hear me, and let this count kill me.'

12 • Hold my hand' is the same as · Here's my hand. Be factious for redress' means, be contentious, enterprising for redress. VOL. VIII.

D D

« PreviousContinue »