H́nh ảnh trang

As we were sickly prey;4 their shadows seem
A canopy most fatal, under which

Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost.
Mes. Believe not so.


I but believe it partly;

For I am fresh of spirit, and resolv'd
To meet all perils very constantly.
Bru. Even So, Lucilius.


Now, most noble Brutus, The gods to-day stand friendly; that we may, Lovers, in peace, lead on our days to age! But, since the affairs of men rest still uncertain, Let's reason with the worst that may befall. If we do lose this battle, then is this The very last time we shall speak together: What are you then determined to do?5


Bru. Even by the rule of that philosophy,

—as we were sickly prey;] So, in King John:
"As doth a raven on a sick-fall'n beast,

5 The very last time we shall speak together:


What are you then determined to do?] i. e. I am resolved in such a case to kill myself. What are you determined of? Warburton. 6 of that philosophy,] There is an apparent contradiction between the sentiments contained in this and the following speech which Shakspeare has put into the mouth of Brutus. In this, Brutus declares his resolution to wait patiently for the determinations of Providence; and in the next, he intimates, that though he should survive the battle, he would never submit to be led in chains to Rome. This sentence in Sir Thomas North's translation, is perplexed, and might be easily misunderstood. Shakspeare, in the first speech, makes that to be the present opinion of Brutus, which in Plutarch, is mentioned only as one he formerly entertained, though he now condemned it.

So, in Sir Thomas North:-"There Cassius beganne to speake first, and sayd: the gods graunt vs, O Brutus, that this day we may winne the field, and euer after to liue all the rest of our life quietly, one with another. But sith the gods haue so ordeyned it, that the greatest & chiefest things amongest men are most vncertayne, and that if the battell fall out otherwise to daye then we wishe or looke for, we shall hardely meete againe, what art thou then determined to doe? to fly, or dye? Brutus aunswered him, being yet but a young man, and not ouer greatly experienced in the world: I trust (I know not how) a certeine rule of philosophie, by the which I did greatly blame and reproue Cato for killing of him selfe, as being no lawfull nor godly acte, touching the gods, nor concerning men, valiant; not to giue place and yeld to diuine prouidence, and not constantly and paciently to take whatsoever it pleaseth him to send vs, but to drawe backe,



By which I did blame Cato for the death
Which he did give himself;—I know not how,
But I do find it cowardly and vile,

For fear of what might fall, so to prevent

The time of life :7-arming myself with patience,
To stay the providence of some high powers,
That govern us below.


Then, if we lose this battle,9

and flie: but being nowe in the middest of the daunger, I am of a contrarie mind. For if it be not the will of God, that this battell fall out fortunate for vs, I will looke no more for hope, neither seeke to make any new supply for war againe, but will rid me of this miserable world, and content me with my fortune. For, I gaue vp my life for my contry in the ides of Marche, for the which I shall live in another more glorious worlde." Steevens.

I see no contradiction in the sentiments of Brutus. He would not determine to kill himself merely for the loss of one battle; but as he expresses himself, (p. 117) would try his fortune in a second fight. Yet he would not submit to be a captive. Blackstone.

I concur with Mr. Steevens. The words of the text by no means justify Sir W. Blackstone's solution. The question of Cassius relates solely to the event of this battle. Malone.

There is certainly an apparent contradiction between the sentiments which Brutus expresses in this, and in his subsequent speech; but there is no real inconsistency. Brutus had laid it down to himself as a principle, to abide every chance and extremity of war; but when Cassius reminds him of the disgrace of being led in triumph through the streets of Rome, he acknowledges that to be a trial which he could not endure. Nothing is more natural than this. We lay down a system of conduct for ourselves, but occurrences may happen that will force us to depart from it. M. Mason.

This apparent contradiction may be easily reconciled. Brutus is at first inclined to wait patiently for better times; but is roused by the idea of being "led in triumph," to which he will never submit. The loss of the battle would not alone have determined him to kill himself, if he could have lived free. Ritson.


so to prevent

The time of life:] To prevent is here used in a French senseto anticipate. By time is meant the full and complete time; the period. Malone.

To prevent, I believe, has here its common signification. Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, adduces this very instance as an example of it. Steevens.

8 -arming myself with patience, &c.] Dr. Warburton thinks, that in this speech something is lost; but there needed only a parenthesis to clear it. The construction is this: I am determined to act according to that philosophy which directed me to blame the suicide of Cato; arining myself with patience, &c. Johnson.

You are contented to be led in triumph
Thorough the streets of Rome?

Bru. 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 that work, the ides of March begun ;1
And whether we shall meet again, I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewel take :-
For ever, and for ever, farewel, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why we shall smile;
If not, why then this parting was well made.
Cas. For ever, and for ever, farewel, Brutus!
If we do meet again, we 'll smile indeed;

If not, 'tis true, this parting was well made.


Bru. Why then, lead on.-O, that a man might know The end of this day's business, ere it come!

But it sufficeth, that the day will end,

And then the end is known.-Come, ho! away! [Exeunt.


The same. The Field of Battle.

Alarum. Enter BRUTUS and MESSALA.

Bru. Ride, ride, Messala, ride, and give these bills?

Unto the legions on the other side:

Let them set on at once; for I perceive

But cold demeanour in Octavius' wing,

[Loud Alarum.

Then, if we lose this battle,] Cassius, in his last speech, having said-If we do lose this battle, the same two words might, in the present instance, be fairly understood, as they derange the metre. I would therefore read only:


Then, if we lose,

You are contented &c.

Thus, in King Lear:

"King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta'en:

i. e. hath lost the battle. Steevens.


the ides of March begun ;] Our author ought to have writ ten-began. For this error, I have no doubt, he is himself answerable. Malone.

See p. 106, n. 3. Steevens.


give these bills -] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "In the meane tyme Brutus that led the right winge, sent little billes to the collonels and captaines of private bandes, in which he wrote the worde of the battell," &c. Steevens.

And sudden push gives them the overthrow.

Ride, ride, Messala: let them all come down. [Exċunc.


The same. Another Part of the Field.

Alarum. Enter CASSIUS and TITINIUS.

Cas. 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 coward, and did take it from him.

Tit. O Cassius, Brutus gave the word too early:
Who, having some advantage on Octavius,
Took it too eagerly; his soldiers fell to spoil,
Whilst we by Antony are all enclos'd.


Pin. Fly further off, my lord, fly further off;
Mark Antony is in your tents, my lord!
Ely therefore, noble Cassius, fly far off.

Cas. This hill is far enough.3-Look, look, Titinius;

3 This hill is far enough. &c.] Thus, in the old translation of Plu tarch: "So, Cassius him selfe was at length compelled to flie, with a few about him, vnto a little hill, from whence they might easely see what was done in all the plaine: howbeit Cassius him self sawe nothing, for his sight was verie bad, sauing that he saw (and yet with much a doe) how the enemies spoiled his campe before his eyes. He sawe also a great troupe of horsemen, whom Brutus sent to aide him, and thought that they were his enemies that followed him : but yet he sent Titinius, one of them that was with him, to goe and know what they were. Brutus' horsemen sawe him comming a farre of, whom when they knewe that he was one of Cassius' chiefest friendes, they showted out for joy: and they that were familiarly acquainted with him, lighted from their horses, and went and imbraced him. The rest compassed him in rounde about a horsebacke, with songs of victorie and great rushing of their harnes, so that they made all the field ring againe for joy. But this marred all. For Cassius thinking in deed that Titinius was taken of the enemies, he then spake these wordes: desiring too much to liue, I haue liued to see one of ny best frendes taken, for my sake, before my face. After that, he gotte into a tent where no bodye was, and tooke Pindarus with him, one of his freed bondmen, whom he reserued ever for suche a pinche, since the cursed battell of the Parthians, where Crassus was slaine, though he notwithstanding scaped from that ouerthrow; but then casting his cloke ouer his head, & holding out his bare neck vnto Pyndarus, he gate him his head to be striken off. So the head was

Are those my tents, where I perceive the fire?
Tit. They are, my lord.


Titinius, if thou lov'st me, Mount thou my horse, and hide thy spurs in him, Till he have brought thee up to yonder troops, And here again; that I may rest assur'd, Whether yond' troops are friend or enemy.

Tit. I will be here again, even with a thought.4 [Exit. Cas. Go, Pindarus, get higher on that hill;6

My sight was ever thick; regard Titinius,

And tell me what thou not'st about the field.- [Exit PIN. This day I breathed first: time is come round,

And, where I did begin, there shall I end;

My life is run his compass.-Sirrah, what news?8
Pin. [above] O my lord !9

Cas. What news?

Pin. Titinius is

found seuered from the bodie: but after that time Pyndarus was neuer seene more."


— even with a thought.] The same expression occurs again in Antony and Cleopatra:

"That, which is now a horse, even with a thought

"The rack dislimns, -."


5 Go, Pindarus,] This dialogue between Cassius and Pindarus, is beautifully imitated by Beaumont and Fletcher in their tragedy of Bonduca, Act III, sc. v.



get higher on that hill;] Our author perhaps wrote on this hill; for Cassius is now on a hill. But there is no need of change. He means a hillock somewhat higher than that on which he now is. The editor of the second folio arbitrarily reads-thither for higher, and all the subsequent editors adopted his alteration. Malone. Mr. Malone has sufficiently justified the reading in the text; and yet the change offered by the second folio is not undefensible. Steevens. time is come round,] So, in King Lear, the Bastard, dying,



"The wheel is come full


[blocks in formation]

Sirrah, what news?] Sirrah, as appears from many of our old plays, was the usual address in speaking to servants, and children. Mr. Pope, not adverting to this, reads-- Now, what news? See Vol. VII, p. 185, n. 9. Malone.

9 O my lord! &c.] Perhaps this passage, designed to form a single verse, originally stood thus:

Pin. O my good lord!


What news?

[blocks in formation]
« TrướcTiếp tục »