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That I am meek and gentle with these butchers.
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man,
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood !
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue,
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury, and fierce civil strife,
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile, when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of War:
All pity choak’d with custom of fell deeds;
And Cæsar's spirit raging for revenge.
With Até by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines, with a monarch's voice,
Cry Havock, and let slip the dogs of war.
This speech shews the secret enmity Anlony bears to the conspirators, and prepares us for the inflammatory oration, which at the obsequies of Cæsar he pronounces before the people.--I shall cite it at length, for as this tragedy has been brought by Mr.
Voltaire into a comparison with the Cinna of Corneille, and he is pleased to call our English piece a monstrous spectacle, and takes not the least notice of a speech which may be considered as one of the finest pieces of rhetoric that is extant, I am desirous to set it before the reader. It is presumed that he will hardly find any thing monstrous in its form, or absurd in its matter, but quite the reverse.
suppose a popular address and manner, in an oration designed for the populace, would be deemed the most proper by the best critics in the art of rhetoric.
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 interred with their bones ;
So let it be with Caesar! Noble Brutus
Hath told you, Cæsar was ambitious :
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Cæsar answer'd 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 fill;
Did this in Cæsar seem ambitious ?
When that the poor have cry'd, Cæsar hath wept ;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff,
Yet Brutus says, he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an bonourable 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 with-holds 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.
1 PLEBEIAN. Mcthinks, there is much reason in his sayings, &c.
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 to dispos’d 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, '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.
We'll hear the will; read it, Mark Antony.
The will the will. We will hear Cæsar's will.
Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Cæsar lov'd you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, hearing the will of Cæsar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad.
'Tis good you know not, that you are his heirs ;
For if you should, O what would come of it?
Read the will, we will hear it, Antony, &c.
Will you be patient ? will you stay a while?
I have o'ershot myself, to tell you of it.
I fear, I wrong the honourable men,
Whose daggers have stabb'd Cæsar. I do fear it.
4 PLEBEIAN. They were traitors, &c.
You will compel me then to read the will ?
Then make a ring about the corpse of Cæsar,
And let me shew you him, that made the will.
Shall 1 descend? and will you give me leave?
You shall have leave.
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.