Page images

we have

[Brutus.] Did I not hear thee speak in dreaming, Lucius ? [Lucius.) I do not know, my lord. . Brutus.] Didst thou see anything? [Lucius.] Nothing, my lord. [Brutus.] Well, sleep again : for shortly you must bear

A message for me to my brother Cassius.

I'll sleep myself, if sleep will close my eyes. We will pass the intervening time and space,

till Brutus and Cassius before us on the plains of Philippi, when the battles are about to be fought : these battles, we may suppose, take place on the same day: let us now believe it early morning : Cassius is first to speak : (Cassius.] My noble Brutus,

If we do los this battle, then is this

last time we shall speak together :
What are you then determined to do?
Are you contented to be led in triumph

Throughout the streets of Rome ? [Brutus.] No, Cassius, no: think not, thou noble Roman,

That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;
He bears too great a mind.—But this same day
Must end the work the ides of March began;
And whether we shall meet again, I know not:
Therefore, our everlasting farewell take :
For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius !
If we do meet again, why we shall smile;

If not, why then this parting was well made.
[Cassius.] For ever, and for ever, farewell, Brutus !

If we do meet again, we'll smile indeed ;

If not, 'tis true this parting was well made. [Brutus.] Why, then, lead on. Oh, that a man might know

The end of this day's busi’ness ere it come!
But it sufficeth that the day will end,
And then the end is known: come on, come on

We pass to another part of the plains of Philippi: the time, let it now be supposed, is noon : Cassius and Titinius are moving in some disorder : Cassius speaks : [Cassius.] O look, Titinius, look ; the villains fly:

Myself have to mine own turn'd enemy;
This ensign here of mine was turning back;

I slew the villain, and did take his standard.
[Titinius.] O, Cassius, Brutus gave the word too early

His soldiers having vantage on Octavius,
Took it too eagerly; and fell to spoil,

While we by Antony were all enclos’d. Pindarus, the bondman of Cassius, runs toward him in haste : [Pindarus.] Fly farther off, my lord, fly farther off ; Mark Antony is in your tents, my

lord : Fly therefore, noble Cassius, fly far off! [Cassius.] This hill is far enough.—Look, look, Titinius;

Are those my tents where I perceive the fire ?
Titinius, mount my horse and use thy spurs,
And ride towa’rd yonder troops, and here again,
That I may know if those be friend or enemy.
Come hither, Pindarus ; go you up yon hill;
My sight is thick; keep eye upon Titinius,
And tell me what thou seest about the field.

[a pause.]
This day I breathed first: time is come round,
And where I did begin, there shall I end;

My life has run its compass: [in a high tone, as to one at a distance.] Now, what news ? {Pindarus, as from a distant height.] O, my lord,

Titinius is enclos’d; yet he spurs on:
Now they are almost on him; now, Titinius !
Now, they alight: now he alights: he's taken;

And hark! they shout for joy.
[Cassius.] Come down; behold no more:-

0, coward that I am, to live so long,

[ocr errors]

To see my best friend ta'en before


Come hither, Pindarus :
In Parthia did I take thee prisoner ;
And then I swore thee, saving of thy life,
That whatsoever I did bid thee do,
Thou shouldst attempt it. Come now, keep thine oath!
Now be a freeman; and, with this good sword,
That ran through Cæsar's bosom, search thou mine.
Stand not to answer : here; now take the hilt,
And when my face is cover'd, as 'tis now,
Guide thou the sword.
Cæsar, thou art reveng'd,

Even with the sword that kill'd thee! Titinius had not been taken :—they who enclosed him were a party of friends, whom Pindarus mistook for foes. Titinius soon after comes up to the spot where Cassius has breathed his last, with tidings that Brutus has been partially successful. Finding Cassius dead, he sends a messenger to Brutus to acquaint him with the event ; and then, in despair, slays himself on the body of Cassius. Brutus hastens to the same spot with Messala and other friends : he is bending over the bodies when he speaks : [Brutus.] Are yet two Romans living, such as these ?

Thou last of all the Romans, fare thee well!
It is impossible that ever Rome
Should breed thy fellow. Friends, I owe more tears
To this dead man than you shall see me pay.
O Julius Cæsar, thou art mighty yet!
Thy spirit stalks abroad, and turns our swords
Into our proper bosoms.
Come, let us to the field; and yet, ere night,

; We'll try our fortunes in a second fight. Again we shift our place and time for a short distance, and a few hours. We still imagine ourselves on the plains of Philippi : the time is now evening : Brutus, and others, weary and disconsoiate, appear before us in the dusk: Brutus speaks :




[Brutus.] Come, poor remains of friends, let's rest us here:

Slaying i’s the word: it is a deed in fashion.
Hark, Lucius! come thou hither, boy. Well, well,
No words then: I must ask some other hand.
Metellus, good Metellus, list, a word:-
The ghost of Cæsar has appear'd to me
Two several times at night: at Sardis once,
And, this last night, here in Philippi fields:
I know my hour is come; I'm sure it is.
Thou seest the world, Metellus, how it goes :
Our enemies have beat us to the pit;
It is more noble to leap in ourselves
Than tarry till they push us. Good Metellus,
Thou know'st that we two went to school together ;
Even for that our love of old, I pray

Hold thou sword-hilt while I run upon it.
Yet death must come; and so farewell, Metellus !

you—to all my friends, farewell !
My heart doth joy that yet in all my life
I found no man but he was true to me.
I shall have glory by this losing day,
More than Octavius and Mark Antony
By their vile conquest shall attain unto:
Give leave, my friends; I would be left alone.

[a pause.]
This was the justest cause that ever men
Did draw their swords for--and the gods renounce it.
Disdaining life to live a slave in Rome,
Thus Brutus strikes his last— for liberty.

Beloved country!—Cæsar, now be still! The friends of Brutus keep their place around the body, although Antony and Octavius approach them with forces : Antony speaks to them : [Antony.] Whom mourn you over ? [Metellus.] Brutus. [Antony.) So Brutus should be found.


This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Cæsar;
He only in a general honest thought,
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle ; and the elements
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up,
And say to all the world —“This was a man.
Within my tent his bones to-night shall lie,
Most like a soldier-order'd honou’rably :
So call the field to rest; and let's away,
To part the glories of this prosperous day.

[ocr errors]



HISTORICAL MEMORANDA. The triumvirate of Octavius, Lepidus, and Antony, was nothing else than a union of interests for a time in order to subjugate the whole Roman empire before contending who should be its sole master. But in this compact Lepidus was a cipher, and the contest was therefore reserved for Antony and Octavius. Each of these contemplated the final overthrow of the other, even at times when they found it necessary to seem the closest friends : and, in this contest, it is curious to watch the effects of personal qualities in bringing about the events which ultimately settled the condition of the empire. If military talent, courage, and promptitude in difficulties, had been alone necessary to success, there is reason to think that it would have gone to the side of Antony: but Antony wanted what his rival possessed,—personal restraint, and cold, calculating prudence. Both were unprincipled men-but the laxity of the one flowed from the unregulated ardour of his heart; the vices of the other came from his head. After the battles of Philippi.-Octavius, who, besides sharing in the common command of Italy, had exclusive command in Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia, returned to Rome ; while Antony, who had exclusive command in Gaul and in Africa, went to the East, to carry on the wars there that had been long in operation. On his way he cited Cleopatra to appear before him, and, struck by her charms, formed that connection with her, which may be deemed the characteristic event of his life, and which coloured it to the end.

« PreviousContinue »