Immagini della pagina

use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.

Mar. What trade, thou knave? thou naughty knave, what trade?

Sec. Com. Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.

Mar. What meanest thou by that? mend me, 20 thou saucy fellow !

Sec. Com. Why, sir, cobble you.

Flav. Thou art a cobbler, art thou?

Sec. Com. Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl I meddle with no tradesman's matters, nor women's matters, but with awl. I am, indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes; when they are in great danger, I recover them. As proper men as ever trod upon neat's leather have gone upon my handiwork.

Flav. But wherefore art not in thy shop today?

Why dost thou lead these men about the streets? Sec. Com. Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work. But, indeed, sir, we make holiday, to see Cæsar and to rejoice in his triumph.

Mar. Wherefore rejoice? brings he home?

What conquest

What tributaries follow him to Rome,

To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless

O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
40. senseless, inanimate.



Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
The live-long day, with patient expectation,
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome :
And when you saw his chariot but appear,
Have you not made an universal shout,
That Tiber trembled underneath her banks,
To hear the replication of your sounds
Made in her concave shores?

And do you now put on your best attire?
And do you now cull out a holiday?

And do you now strew flowers in his way

That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?
Be gone!

Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,

Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.

Flav. Go, go, good countrymen, and, for this fault,

Assemble all the poor men of your sort;

Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears
Into the channel, till the lowest stream

Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.

[Exeunt all the Commoners.
See, whether their basest metal be not moved;
They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness.
Go you down that way towards the Capitol;
This way will I: disrobe the images,

56. Pompey's blood, i.e. his son, Cneius, who had fallen in the battle of Munda, the immediate occasion of Cæsar's Triumph. That blood' has this special reference is shown by Plutarch's emphatic statement, which Shakespeare clearly had in view, that this triumph was peculiarly offensive to the


Romans 'because he had not
overcome captains that were
strangers, nor barbarous kings,
but had destroyed the sons of
the noblest man of Rome, whom
fortune had overthrown' (Shak-
speare's Library, iii. 172).
62. sort, class, rank.

66. whether, pronounced 'where.'

If you do find them deck'd with ceremonies.

Mar. May we do so?

You know it is the feast of Lupercal.

Flav. It is no matter; let no images
Be hung with Cæsar's trophies. I'll about,.
And drive away the vulgar from the streets :
So do you too, where you perceive them thick.
These growing feathers pluck'd from Cæsar's wing
Will make him fly an ordinary pitch,

Who else would soar above the view of men

And keep us all in servile fearfulness.


[Exeunt. 80

SCENE II. A public place.

Flourish. Enter CÆSAR; ANTONY, for the course ;
CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following,
among them a Soothsayer.

[blocks in formation]

Cas. Stand you directly in Antonius' way,

70. ceremonies, festal ornaments, the scarfs' of the next scene (v. 289); Plutarch says diadems.' In Plutarch's narrative, however, the offer of the ⚫ diadem' to Cæsar, which Shakespeare places in the following scene, has already occurred. With him, the crowning of the images was a second attempt to sound the popular disposition after the collapse of the first :

Shakespeare treats it as preliminary to this.


the feast of Lupercal, a feast of purification annually celebrated on the 15th of February, the month deriving its name from the purifying rite (februare).

78. pitch, height (a term in falconry for the height of the falcon's flight).

When he doth run his course.

Ant. Cæsar, my lord?


Cas. Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.

I shall remember:

When Cæsar says 'do this,' it is perform'd.
Cæs. Set on; and leave no ceremony out.

Sooth. Cæsar !

Cæs. Ha! who calls?


Casca. Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!
Cas. Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry 'Cæsar!' Speak; Cæsar is turn'd to hear.
Sooth. Beware the ides of March.


What man is that? Bru. A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Cas. Set him before me; let me see his face.
Cas. Fellow, come from the throng; look upon

Cas. What say'st thou to me now? speak once

4. run his course; the course of the Luperci, or priests of Lupercus, the god of fertility, at the Lupercalia, through the streets of the city. Plutarch's description (translated by North) is: That day there are divers noble men's sons, young men (and some of them magistrates themselves that govern them), which run naked through the city, striking in sport them they meet in their way, with leather thongs, hair and all on, to




make them give place.
many noble women and gentle-
women also, go of purpose to
stand in their way, and do put
forth their hands to be stricken,

persuading themselves that being with child they shall have good delivery, and also being barren, that it will make them to conceive with child.'

9. sterile curse, curse of sterility.


18. the ides of March, March

Sooth. Beware the ides of March.

Cas. He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.
[Sennet. Exeunt all except

Brutus and Cassius.

Cas. Will you go see the order of the course?

Bru. Not I.

Cas. I pray you, do.

Bru. I am not gamesome: I do lack some part

Of that quick spirit that is in Antony.

Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;

I'll leave you.

Cas. Brutus, I do observe you now of late:
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love as I was wont to have:
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you.

Be not deceived: if I have veil'd my look,

I turn the trouble of my countenance
Merely upon myself. Vexed I am

Of late with passions of some difference,
Conceptions only proper to myself,

Which give some soil perhaps to my behaviours;
But let not therefore my good friends be grieved—
Among which number, Cassius, be you one-

Nor construe any further my neglect,

Than that poor Brutus, with himself at war,
Forgets the shows of love to other men.

Cas. Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your passion;

By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried

35. bear too stubborn and too strange a hand over, keep (like a restive horse) too severely and unkindly in check.


40. passions of some difference, conflicting emotions.

42. soil, blemish.

« IndietroContinua »