Puslapio vaizdai
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Is now become a god ; and Caffius is
A wretched creature, and must bend his body,
If Cæsar carelesly but nod on him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And when the fit was on him, I did mark
How he did shake : 'tis true, this god did shake;
His coward lips did from their colour fly,
And that same eye, whose bend doth awe the world,
Did lose its lustre ; I did hear him groan:
Aye, and that tongue of his, that bad the Romans
Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,
Alas! it cry'd give me some drink, Titinius-
As a fick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble


(3) So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone.

[Shout. flourish
Bru. Another general shout!
I do believe that these applauses are
For some new honours that are heap'd on Cæsar.

Caf. Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.

[ocr errors]

(3) So get, &c.] Mr. Warburton tells us the image is extremely noble: it is taken from the Olympic games.” Though that does not appear so certain or necessary, since the allufion to any publick games will do full as well ; yet what he says afterwards is more to the purpose : “ The majestic world is a fine periphrasis for the Reman empire : their citizens set themselves on a footing with kings, and they called their dominion, Orbis Romanus.But the particu. lar allusion seems to be to the known story of Cæsar's great pattern, Alexander, who, being asked whether he would run the course at the Olympic games, replied, if the racers were kings.” For this allufion also, there does not seem the least hint in the piniisage; rather the contrary : Cassius wonders how such a feeble man thould fo get the start of all the Romans, the majestic world, as to bear the palm alone? How he, feebler than the rest, should in the course outHrip 'em all, and carry off the prize ?



[ocr errors]

Men at some times are mafters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in our felves, that we are underlings.
Brutus and Cæfar! what should be in that Cæfar?
Why should that name be founded more than yours?
Write them together; yours is as fair a name:
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with 'em,
Brutus will start a spirit, as soon as Cæsar.
Now in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Cæfar feed,
That he is grown fo great? Age, thou art sham'd;
Rome, thou haft loft the breed of noble bloods.
When went there by an age, fince the great flood,
But it was fam'd with more than with one man?
When could they say, till now, that talk'd of Rome,
That her wide walls encompass'd but one man ?

SCENE IV. Cæfar's Diflike of Caffius.

Would he were fatter; but I fear him not: Yet if my name were liable to fear,

I do not know the man I should avoid,

[ocr errors]

So foon as that spare Caffius. He reads much;
He is a great obferver; and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men.
He loves no plays,
As thou doft, Antony; (4) he hears no musick :
Seldom he fmiles; and fmiles in such a fort,
As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit,

(4) He bears, &c.] Mr. Theobald obferves well here: "This is not a trivial obfervation, nor does our poet mean barely by it, that Caffius was not a merry, sprightly man, but that he had not a due temperament of harmony in his compofition: and that, therefore, natures, fo uncorrected, are dangerous." He hath finely dilated on this fentiment, in his Merchant of Venice.

The man that hath no mufick, &..

See vol. i p.71.


[ocr errors]

That could be mov'd to fmile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease,
Whilft they behold a greater than themselves;
And therefore are they very dangerous.
I rather tell thee what is to be fear'd,
'Than what I fear; for always I am Cæfar.

SCENE VII. Spirit of Liberty.

I know, where I will wear this dagger then:
Caffius from bondage will deliver Caffius.
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak moft ftrong;
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat:
Nor ftony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor ftrong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the ftrength of spirit :
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to difmifs itself.

If I know this; know all the world befides,
That part of tyranny, that I do bear,
I can shake off at pleasure.


Ambition, cover'd with fpecious Humility.
But 'tis a common proof,

That lowlinefs is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmoft round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the cloud, fcorning the base degrees
By which he did afcend.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Confpiracy, dreadful till executed.

(5) Between the acting of a dreadful thing,
And the first motion, all the interim is.
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream :
The genius, and the mortal inftruments
Are then in council; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, fuffers then
The nature of an infurrection.


(5) Between, &c] Mr, Addifon has paraphrafed this inimitable paffage, in his Cato, which always ferves to remind me of that excellent diftinction, made by Mr. Guthrie, in his Effay on Tragedy, betwixt a poet and a genius: See p. 18, &c. and p. 237. vol. 1.

O think, what anxious moments pafs between
The birth of plots, and their last fatal periods.

Oh 'tis a dreadful interval of time,

Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death.

CATO Either Mr Theobald, or Mr. Warburton (which who can pronounce, fince the one prints the fame words in his preface, which the other ufes as his own in his notes? See Theobald's preface vol. 1. p. 25, and Warburton on the passage) either the one or the other of them, have obferved," that nice critic, Dionyfius, of Halicarnaffus, confeffes, that he could not find those great ftrokes, which he calls the terrible graces, any where fo frequent as in Homer. I believe the fuccefs would be the fame, likewife, if we fought for them in any other of our authors befides our British Homer, Shakespear. This defcription of the condition of confpirators has a pomp and terror in it, that perfectly aftonishes; our excellent Mr. Addifon, whofe modefty made him fometimes diffident in his own genius, but whofe exquifite judgment always led him to the safest guides, has paraphrafed this fine defcription: but we are no longer to expect thofe terrible graces, which he could not hinder from evaporating in the transfufion. We may obferve two things on-his imitation: first, that the fubjects of thefe two confpiracies being fo very different, (the fortune of Cæfar and the Roman empire being concern'd in the firft, and that of only a few auxiliary troops in the other) Mr. Addifon could not with that propriety bring in that magnificent circumftance, which gives the terrible grace to Shakespear's defcription:

The genius and the mortal inftruments

Are then in council.




[ocr errors]


O confpiracy!

Sham'st thou to fhew thy dang'rous brow by night,
When evils are moft free? O then, by day

Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough,

To mask thy monftrous vifage? Seek none, confpiracy;

Hide it in. (miles and affability:

For if thou (6) path, thy nativé femblance on,

Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.

Against Cruelty.

Gentle friends,

Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;

For kingdoms, in the poetical theology befides their good, have their vil genius's likewife, reprefented here with the most daring stretch of fancy, as fitting in council with the confpirators, whom he calls the mortal inftruments. But this would have been too great an apparatus to the rape and defertion of Syphaxand Sempronius. Secondly, the other thing very obferveable is, that Mr. Addifen was fo warm'd and affected with the fire of Shakespear's defcription, that instead of copying his author's fentiments, he has, before he was aware, given us only the image of his own expreffions, on the reading his great original. For

Oh, 'tis a dreadful interval of time

Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death,

Are but the affections rais'd by fuch forcible images as these,

All the interim is

Like a phantafma, or a hideous dream.
The fate of man,

Like to a little kingdom, fuffers then
The nature of an infurrection.

Comparing the mind of a confpirator to an anarchy, is just and beautiful: but the interim to a hideous dream, has fomething in it fo wonderfully natural, and lays the human foul fo open, that one cannot but be furpriz'd, that any poet, who had not himfelf been fome time or other engaged in a confpiracy, could ever have given fuch force of colouring to truth and nature.


(6) Path,] i. e. walk; he makes a verb of the fubftantive, which is very common with him.


« AnkstesnisTęsti »