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More than his reason. But 'tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,

Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend. So Cæsar may:
Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the quarrel
Will bear no colour for the thing he is,

Fashion it thus ; that what he is, augmented, 30 23. climber-upward] climber upward Ff.

“Most wretched man, hand for cause of war the propagation That to affections does the bridle of his law or sect; a quarrel that lend.

he may always command.”

29. Will bear no colour] cannot be Wrath, jealousy, grief, love, this justified on the ground of his actual

squire have laid thus low.” conduct. Compare 2 Henry VI. III. 21. a common proof] a matter of i. 236: “But yet we want a colour common experience.

for his death." Coleridge well re22. young ambition's ladder] Malone marks that “surely nothing can seem compares Daniel's Civil Wars, 1602: more discordant with our historical "The aspirer once attained unto preconceptions of Brutus, or more

lowering to the intellect of the StoicoCuts off those means by which Platonic tyrannicide, than the tenets himself got up."

here attributed to him, the stern 26. base degrees] low steps which Roman Republican, namely, that he he now scorns. * Base" combines would have no objection to a king, or the ideas of lowness and contempt. to Cæsar, a monarch in Rome, would For this use of “degree” compare Cæsar but be as good a monarch as Twelfth Night, 11. i. 134: “I pity he now seems disposed to be.". Peryou ; that's a degree to love." haps Shakespeare was afraid that he

28. prevent] first person plural of might offend his royal patron if he the subjunctive used imperatively as attributed pure republican sentiments "fashion” (line 30), “think” (line to the most attractive character in the 32), “kill” (line 34), "pass” (1. ii. play, and therefore represented him 24), “break” (11. i. 116), and "go" here as opposed not to monarchy in the (iv. iii. 223).

abstract, but only to bad monarchy. 28. quarrel} (Lat. querela, com. 30. Fashion it thus) let us regard plaint) ground or principle of op- it in this light. Brutus here, as in position. Compare “I could not 175-180, is wrongly supposed to be die anywhere so contented as in the contemplating deliberate hypocrisy. king's company, his cause being He is really trying to put such a conjust, and his quarrel honourable struction on the deed as will satisfy (Henry V. iv. i. 133), and Bacon's his own conscience, and is not think29th Essay: “The Turk hath ating of the opinion of the world.

the top

Would run to these and these extremities;
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mis-

And kill him in the shell.

Re-enter LUCIUS.

Luc. The taper burneth in your closet, sir.

Searching the window for a flint, I found
This paper, thus seal'd up; and I am sure
It did not lie there when I went to bed.

[Gives him a letter. Bru. Get you to bed again; it is not day.

Is not to-morrow, boy, the first of March?
Luc. I know not, sir.
Bru. Look in the calendar, and bring me word.
Luc. I will, sir.



40. first] Ff, ides Theobald and later editors.

31. these and these extremities] "Ides.” It is more probably a slip certain extremes that he has in his of the poet's, traceable to a passage in mind but does not specify.. Compare the life of Brutus in which we read the use of “these” in 1. iii. 30. that Cassius asked Brutus “if he

33. his kind] its species. “His” were determined to be in the Senate is neuter possessive, as in i. ii. House the first day of the month of 123.

March, because he heard say that 34. in the shellj Craik well remarks Cæsar's friends should move the that “it is impossible not to feel the Council that day, that Cæsar should expressive effect of the hemistich here. be called king by the Senate.” The line itself is, as it were, killed in Shakespeare, reading this passage, the shell."

naturally supposed that it referred to 40. first of March] As is plain the day of the assassination, on which from the answer of Lucius(line 59), the the Senate had resolved to give a crown morrow, or rather the day then com- to Cæsar (11. ii. 93). He thus from mencing, for it is evident from 1. iii. his original got two dates mixed up in 163 that it was past midnight, was his mind, and in the hurry of writing the fifteenth or Ides of March. It is for the stage may have overlooked therefore generally supposed that the inconsistency. “first” in the Folios is a misprint for

Bru. The exhalations whizzing in the air
Give so much light that I may read by them. 45

[Opens the letter.
Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake, and see thyself.
Shall Rome, etc. Speak, strike, redress !
“Brutus, thou sleep'st : awake!”
Such instigations have been often dropp'd
Where I have took them up.

“Shall Rome, etc.” Thus must I piece it out:
Shall Rome stand under one man's awe? What,

My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
The Tarquin drive, when he was call’d a king.
“Speak, strike, redress!” Am I entreated 55
To speak and strike? O Rome! I make thee

If the redress will follow, thou receiv'st
Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus !

52. What, Rome?] What Rome? Ff. 56. thee) F1, 4; the F 2, 3.

53. ancestors] Ff, ancestor Dyce.

44. exhalations) meteors. See note indignation that Rome should be so on 1. iii. 10.

servile and submissive. 48.] This is not the end of the letter, 53. My ancestors] The plural may but the beginning repeated as a sub- be justified on the supposition that ject for reflection.

several members of the Brutus family 51. piece it out] fill up the gap. took part in the expulsion of the Brutus by the uncertain light of the Tarquins. Brutus was a plebeian, and meteors reads only the beginning and not descended from the patrician end of the letter, and conjectures the family to which the old Brutus berest to be of a tenor similar to the longed. The common name, howinstigations that have been dropt in ever, naturally made people believe his way before.

that the later was descended from 52. stand under one man's awe] the earlier Brutus, and expect that he be cowed by one man. For the pos- would emulate the glory of his supsessive used as an objective genitive, posed ancestor. To give credit to compare Richard II. 1. i. 128: “my this belief, a third son was invented for sceptre's awe.”

the old Brutus in addition to the two 52. What] expresses surprise and sons whom he executed in their youth

Re-enter LUCIUS.



Luc. Sir, March is wasted fifteen days.

[Knocking within. Bru. 'Tis good. Go to the gate: somebody knocks. 60

[Exit Lucius.
Since Cassius first did whet me against Cæsar,
I have not slept.
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 instruments 59. fifteen] Ff, fourteen Theobald and later editors.

59. wasted] here merely expresses Oh! 'tis a dreadful interval of the lapse of time, as perhaps in time, Othello, 1. iii. 84: “Till now some Fill'd up with horror all and big nine moons wasted."

with death." 59. fifteen As this was the morn 65. phantasma] apparition, ing of the fifteenth of March, strictly something horrible and unreal. The speaking only a little more than Greek termination shows that the fourteen days of the month had run. word was not perfectly naturalised Therefore most editors alter“fif- in Shakespeare's time. Elsewhere teen” into “fourteen." The change Shakespeare uses the Anglicised form is, however, not warranted. Shake- "phantasm.” speare merely made Lucius reckon 66. genius and the mortal instru. inclusively, as many people still do ments] the spirit or mind, and the and as the Romans themselves did in "corporal agents” (Macbeth, 1. vii. 80) reckoning time, e.g., in the Roman by which it carries out its purposes. Calendar the thirteenth of March was The key to this difficult passage may be called the third day before the Ides, found in lines 175, 176, iv. i. 33, and in although according to our reckoning Othello, 1. iii. 271, where Othello speaks it is only two days before the Ides of his "speculative and active instruor fifteenth of March. Compare ments," meaningrespectively his organs Matthew xxvii. 63, and Iliad, ix. 363 of thought and action. “Genius" here as interpreted by Socrates at the be- corresponds to “speculative instruginning of the Crito.

ments" there, and the "mortal in63. Between the acting, etc.] Addi- struments” of this passage are the son reproduces the sense of these lines "active instruments spoken of in in his Cato, 1. iii. :

that passage, which are here dis“O think what anxious moments tinguished from the genius or mind pass between

by their mortality and as being the The birth of plots and their last instruments employed by the mind. fatal periods.

The epithet "mortal” shows that

Are then in council; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.

Re-enter LUCIUS.

Luc. Sir, 'tis your brother Cassius at the door, 70

Who doth desire to see you.

Is he alone?
Luc. No, sir, there are moe with him.

Do you know them?
Luc. No, sir; their hats are pluck'd about their ears,

And half their faces buried in their cloaks, 67. of man,] F 2, 3, 4; of a man, F 1. 74. cloaks] cloakes F 1; cloathes F2; cloaths F 3, 4. Shakespeare here follows the doc- described in Macbeth, in Othello, in trine of Aristotle, who denied the the Medea of Euripides, and in the immortality of all but the rational Choëphore of Æschylus as preceding soul. The general meaning of the the execution of dreadful deeds. passage is that the mind takes Macbeth in describing his state of counsel with the active organs by mind (1. iii. 137) says: help of which the deed is to be ac “My thought, whose murder yet is complished. It is no doubt strange but fantastical, to make the bodily organs deliberate, Shakes so my single state of man, but they are represented as doing so that function again in Coriolanus, 1. i. 105. For Is smothered in surmise,” "genius” in the sense of "mind” which supports the omission of “a” or "spirit” Craik quotes The Comedy before "man" in the later Folios. of Errors, v. i. 332:

70. brother] for “brother-in-law." “One of these men is genius to the Cassius married Junia, the sister of other;

Brutus. And so of these : which is the 73. their hats] Ancient Romans of natural man

high rank generally went about bareAnd which the spirit ?"

headed, but they would naturally 68. Like to a little kingdom) The cover their heads at this early hour of comparison between the mind of man the morning. Suetonius mentions and a political state is elaborately that Nero used a cap as a disguise, worked out in Plato's Republic. when he went incognito through the

69. insurrection] So in Winter's streets. The ancient Greeks and Tale, 1. ii. 355, Leontes contemplat. Romans also sometimes wore a felt ing the murder of Polixenes is de hat (petasus), the brim of which scribed as being "in rebellion with could be pulled down over the ears. himself.” For the civil conflict in 74. cloaks] The Romans were in the soul of Brutus, see 1. ii. 39. A the habit of covering their heads with similar war of contending feelings is a portion of their togas. This, how.

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