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Brutus. 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 my death.
Act III. Scene 4.
PRINTED FROM THE ACTING OOPY, WITH REMARKS,
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL, BY D-G.
To which are added,
A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME, -CAST OF THE CHARACTERS, ENTRANCES AND EXITS,-RELATIVE POSITIONS OF THE PERFORMERS ON THE STAGE, -AND THE WHOLE OF THE STAGE
As now performed at the
THEATRES ROYAL, LONDON.
EMBELLISHED WITH A FINE ENGRAVING,
By Mr. White, from a Drawing taken in the Theatre, by
MR. R. CRUIKSHANK.
JOHN CUMBERLAND, 6, BRECKNOCK PLACE,
Julius Caesar. This is the grandest of the Roman tragedy of Shakspeare. It occupies a considerable portion of time: beginning with the festival of Laperci, which was held in honour of Cæsar, and en ling with the battle of Philippi. It includes the formation of the conspiracy, the death of the dictator, the sanguinary proscription of the trium virate, the flight of Bratus and Cassius, and their fall. For the conduct and action of this drama, Sbakspeare is indebted to Plutarch, and also for some portion of the dialogue: but no praise can be too high for the poet's art in the concentration of the events supplied by history; or for his genius, in producing some of the most perfect specimens of eloquence that are to be found in any language.
The subject had before employed the pen of William Alexander, Earl of Sterline, a heavy Scotch writer of monarchic tragedies; but whose mode of treating it is so insufferably cold and prolix, and whose style, abounding in Scotticisms, is so incorrect and pedantic, that he deserves not the honour which Malone would give him, or haivng furnished Sbakspeare with hints for the present drama, and, also, for a celebrated passage in The Tempest, Act 3, from lis play of Darius : which we doubt if Sbakspeare ever had the curiosity to inquire after, much less the patience io read. A Latin play, on the same subject, had been written by Dr. Richard Eedes, a celebrated tragic poet of his day, as early as the year 1582. It was reserved for Shakspeare to exbibit the patriots and heroes of imperial Rome acting and speaking in a manner worthy of themselves-for such is the exact propriety preserved throughout this drama, that it would be impossible to transfer an oration from one speaker to another, without being guilty of as glaring an anachronism as ever made glad the heart of an editor, who is inore alive to the faults than to the beauties of his author.
Some exception has been taken to the catastrophe; which, it seems, should have been the death of Cæsar, rather than the defeat of the conspirators. But, would the former have compensated for the noble speeches of Brutus and Mark Antony from the Forum (with what contempt do we cast back the sneer of Stevens, at the “ artifi. cial jingle of short sentences,” which is but a servile echo of Warburton)? or for the contention and reconciliation of Brutus and Cassius, which is without its parallel for reasoning and eloqnence. And though, after the third act, the two latter are the only great personages that are left upon the scene, the interest they excite is undimi. nished to the close; nor would any catastrophe have been more truly affecting than the farewell and death of the last and noblest of the Romans.
In this tragedy, three of the most celebrated characters of antiquity are presented to our view with wonderful force and precision-Brutus, Cassius, and Mark Antony. To them Shakspeare has sacrificed the conqueror of the world; in wbom we behold little else but the selfconfident voluptuary, for whom the daggers of the conspirators would.