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DEC. Great Cæsar,
Doth not Brutus bootless kneel1?
CASCA. Speak, hands, for me.
[CASCA stabs CESAR in the Neck.
catches hold of his Arm. He is then stabbed by several other Conspirators, and at last by MARCUS Brutus.
CES. Et tu, Brute ?-Then fall, Cæsar.
4 Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?] I would read:
I cannot subscribe to Dr. Johnson's opinion. Cæsar, as some of the conspirators are pressing round him, answers their importunity properly: See you not my own Brutus kneeling in vain? What success can you expect to your solicitations, when his are ineffectual?" This might have put my learned coadjutor in mind of the passage of Homer, which he has so elegantly introduced in his preface. "Thou (said Achilles to his captive) when so great a man as Patroclus has fallen before thee, dost thou complain of the common lot of mortality? STEEVENS.
The editor of the second folio saw this passage in the same light as Dr. Johnson did, and made this improper alteration. By Brutus here Shakspeare certainly meant Marcus Brutus, because he has confounded him with Decimus (or Decius as he calls him); and imagined that Marcus Brutus was the peculiar favourite of Cæsar, calling him "his well beloved;" whereas in fact it was Decimus Brutus that Cæsar was particularly attached to, appointing him by his will his second heir, that is, in remainder after his primary devisees. MALONE.
See p. 9, n. 1. STEEVENS.
5 Et tu, Brute?] Suetonius says, that when Cæsar put Metellus Cimber back, "he caught hold of Cæsar's gowne at both shoulders, whereupon as he cried out, This is violence, Cassius came in second full a front, and wounded him a little beneath the throat. Then Cæsar catching Cassius by the arme thrust it through with his stile, or writing punches; and with that being about to leape forward, he was met with another wound and stayed." Being then assailed on all sides, " with three and twenty wounds he was stabbed, during which time he gave but one groan, (without any word uttered,) and that was at the first thrust; though some have written, that as Marcus Brutus came running upon him, he said, naì cú Ténvov, and thou, my sonne." Holland's Translation, 1607.
CIN. Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets. CAS. Some to the common pulpits, and cry out, Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!
BRU. People, and senators! be not affrighted; Fly not; stand still:-ambition's debt is paid. CASCA. Go to the pulpit, Brutus o.
No mention is here made of the Latin exclamation, which our author has attributed to Cæsar, nor did North furnish him with it, or with English words of the same import, as might naturally have been supposed. Plutarch says, that on receiving his first wound from Casca, "he caught hold of Casca's sword, and held it hard; and they both cried out, Cæsar in Latin, O vile traitor, Casca; what doest thou? and Casca in Greek to his brother, Brother, help me."-The conspirators then "compassed him on every side with their swordes drawn in their handes, that Cæsar turned him no where but he was stricken by some, and still had naked swords in his face, and was hacked and mangled amongst them as a wild beast taken of hunters.-And then Brutus himself gave him one wound above the privities.-Men report also, that Cæsar did still defend himself against the reste, running every way with his bodie, but when he saw Brutus with his sworde drawen in his hande, then he pulled his gowne over his heade, and made no more resistance."
Neither of these writers therefore, we see, furnished Shakspeare with this exclamation. His authority appears to have been a line in the old play, entitled, The true Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke, &c. printed in 1600, on which he formed his Third Part of King Henry VI.:
"Et tu, Brute? Wilt thou stab Cæsar too?"
This line Shakspeare rejected, when he wrote the piece above mentioned, but it appears it had made an impression on his memory. The same line is also found in Acolastus his Afterwitte, a poem, by S. Nicholson, printed in 1600 :
"Et tu, Brute? Wilt thou stab Cæsar too?
"Thou art my friend, and wilt not see me wrong'd." So, in Cæsar's Legend, Mirror for Magistrates, 1587: "O this, quoth I, is violence; then Cassius pierc'd my breast; "And Brutus thou, my sonne, quoth I, whom erst I loved best." The Latin words probably appeared originally in the old Latin play on this subject. See the Preliminary Remarks. MALONE. Casca. Shakspeare for once knew that he had a sufficient number of heroes on his hands, and was glad to lose an individual in the
BRU. Where's Publius ?
And Cassius too.
CIN. Here, quite confounded with this mutiny. MET. Stand fast together, lest some friend of Cæsar's
BRU. Talk not of standing:-Publius, good cheer;
There is no harm intended to your person,
CAS. And leave us, Publius; lest that the people, Rushing on us, should do your age some mischief. BRU. Do so;—and let no man abide this deed, But we the doers.
CAS. Where's Antony?
Fled to his house amaz'd:
Men, wives, and children, stare, cry out, and run,
As it were doomsday.
Bru. Fates! we will know your pleasures :That we shall die, we know; 'tis but the time, And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
CAS. Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life, Cuts off so many years of fearing death.
BRU. Grant that, and then is death a benefit: So are we Cæsar's friends, that have abridg'd His time of fearing death.-Stoop, Romans, stoop
croud. It may be added, that the singularity of Casca's manners would have appeared to little advantage amidst the succeeding varieties of tumult and war. STEEVENS.
7 Nor to no Roman else:] This use of two negatives, not to make an affirmative, but to deny more strongly, is common to Chaucer, Spenser, and other of our ancient writers. Dr. Hickes observes, that in the Saxon, even four negatives are sometimes conjoined, and still preserve a negative signification. STEEVENS. 8 Cas.] Both the folios give this speech to Casca. REED. 9-Stoop, Romans, stoop,] Plutarch, in The Life of Cæsar,
And let us bathe our hands in Cæsar's blood
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over,
In states unborn 2, and accents yet unknown?
That now on Pompey's basis lies along,
So oft as that shall be3,
So often shall the knot of us be call'd
says, "Brutus and his followers, being yet hot with the murder, marched in a body from the senate-house to the Capitol, with their drawn swords, with an air of confidence and assurance." And in The Life of Brutus :-" Brutus and his party betook themselves to the Capitol, and in their way, showing their hands all bloody, and their naked swords, proclaimed liberty to the people." THEOBALD.
Stoop then, and WASH.] To wash does not mean here to cleanse, but to wash over, as we say, washed with gold; for Cassius means that they should steep their hands in the blood of Cæsar. M. MASON.
2 In STATES unborn,] The first folio has-state; very properly corrected in the second folio-states. Mr. Malone admitted the first of these readings, which he thus explained-In theatrick pomp yet undisplayed.
But, surely, by unborn states, our author must have meant'communities which as yet have no existence.' STEEVENS.
3 So oft as that SHALL BE,] The words-shall be, which render this verse too long by a foot, may be justly considered as interpolations, the sense of the passage being obvious without a suppleAs oft as that, in elliptical phrase, will signify-as oft as that shall happen. There are too many instances of similar ellipses destroyed by the player editors, at the expence of metre.
DEC. What, shall we forth?
CAS. Ay, every man away: Brutus shall lead; and we will grace his heels With the most boldest and best hearts of Rome.
Enter a Servant.
BRU. Soft, who comes here? A friend of Antony's.
SERV. Thus, Brutus, did my master bid me kneel;
Thus did Mark Antony bid me fall down:
Tell him, so please him come unto this place,
I'll fetch him presently.
BRU. I know, that we shall have him well to
CAS. I wish, we may: but yet have I a mind, That fears him much; and my misgiving still Falls shrewdly to the purpose.