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Capitol (proud Rome) had not beheld the bloody fall of pacified Cæsar, if nothing had accompanied him." Robert Greene, a graduate of both Universities, makes the same statement, and Shakespeare may have followed some older play, where the assassination scene was laid in the Capitol: Chaucer had so spoken of it in his "Monk's Tale." It is not, however, likely that Dr. Eedes, who wrote a Latin academical play on the story, acted at Oxford in 1582, should have committed the error.
Shakespeare appears to have derived nearly all his materials from Plutarch, as translated by Sir Thomas North, and first published in 15791. At the same time, it is pretty certain that there was a preceding play, and one reason for thinking so is assigned in a note in Act iii. sc. 1. It is a fact, ascertained from an entry in Henslowe's Diary (p. 221), dated 22d May, 1602, that Anthony Munday, Michael Drayton, John Webster, Thomas Middleton, and other poets, were engaged upon a tragedy entitled " Cæsar's Fall "." The probability is, that these dramatists united their exertions, in order without delay to bring out a tragedy on the same subject as that of Shakespeare, which, perhaps, was then in performance at the Globe Theatre with success. Malone states, that there is no proof that any contemporary writer "had presumed to new-model a story that had already employed the pen of Shakespeare." He forgot that Ben Jonson was engaged upon a "Richard Crookback" in 1602; and he omitted, when examining Henslowe's Diary, to observe, that in the same year four distinguished dramatists, and other poets," were employed upon "Cæsar's Fall.”
From Vertue's manuscripts we learn that a play, called "Cæsar's Tragedy," was acted at Court in 1613, which might be the production of Lord Stirling, Shakespeare's drama, that written by Munday, Drayton, Webster, Middleton, and others, or a play printed in 1607, under the title of "The Tragedy of Cæsar and Pompey, or Cæsar's Revenge." Mr. Peter Cunningham, in his "Revels' Accounts," (Introd. p. xxv.) has shown that a dramatic piece, with the title of "The Tragedy of Cæsar," was exhibited at Court on Jan. 31, 1636-7.
The Earl of Stirling published a tragedy under the title of "Julius Cæsar," in 1604 the resemblances are by no means numerous or obvious, and probably not more than may be accounted for by the fact, that two writers were treating the same subject. The popularity of Shakespeare's tragedy about 1603 may have led to the printing of that by the Earl of Stirling in 1604, and on this account the date is of consequence. Malone appears to have known of no edition of the Earl of Stirling's "Julius Cæsar" until 1607, and Mr. Singer is obviously in the same predicament. It is also to be observed that in his "School of Abuse," 1579, Gosson mentions a play on the history of Cæsar and Pompey.
2 A memorandum in the same Diary (p. 44) shows that on the 8th Nov., 1594, a new play under the title of "Cæsar and Pompey " had been acted.
LUCILIUS, TITINIUS, MESSALA, young CATO, and VOLUMNIUS; Friends to Brutus and Cassius.
VARRO, CLITUS, CLAUDIUS, STRATO, LUCIUS, DAR
DANIUS; Servants to Brutus.
PINDARUS, Servant to Cassius.
CALPHURNIA, Wife to Cæsar.
PORTIA, Wife to Brutus.
Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, &c.
SCENE, during a great part of the Play, at Rome: afterwards at Sardis; and near Philippi.
1 A list of the characters was first prefixed by Rowe.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Rome. A Street.
Enter FLAVIUS, MARULLUS', and a body of Citizens.
Flav. Hence! home, you idle creatures, get you home.
Being mechanical, you ought not walk
Of your profession ?-Speak, what trade art thou?
Mar. Where is thy leather apron, and thy rule? What dost thou with thy best apparel on ?
You, sir; what trade are you?
2 Cit. Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am but, as you would say, a cobbler.
Mar. But what trade art thou?
Answer me directly.
2 Cit. A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.
Mar. What trade, thou knave'? thou naughty knave, what trade?
2 Cit. Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me: yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.
Mar. What mean'st thou by that? Mend me, thou saucy fellow ?
Marullus,]. The folios call him Murellus; but it is an obvious error, and Theobald changed it to "Marullus," on the authority of Plutarch. The "Citizens "in the old copies are called Commoners.
2 Mar. What trade, thou kuave?] We agree with Mr. Craik ("The English of Shakespeare," p. 71), that this speech and the next but one both belong to Marullus. The old copies give the first to Flavius, and the second to Marullus.
2 Cit. Why, sir, cobble you.
Flav. Thou art a cobbler, art thou?
2 Cit. Truly, sir, all that I live by is, with the awl: I meddle with no tradesmen's matters, nor women's matters, but with all'. I am, indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes; when they are in great danger, I re-cover them. As proper men as ever. trod upon neats-leather have gone upon my handy-work.
Flav. But wherefore art not in thy shop to-day?
Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?
2 Cit. 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? What conquest brings he home? What tributaries follow him to Rome,
To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
And do you now put on your best attire?
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.
Flar. Go, go, good countrymen; and for this fault
Assemble all the poor men of your sort:
Draw them to Tyber banks, and weep your tears
3 but WITH ALL.] Printed withal in the old editions, and without any stop, so that the reading might merely be, "but withal I am indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes." The Rev. Mr. Dyce seems to have discovered in this passage than meets the ear." "Remarks," p. 184.
Into the channel, till the lowest stream
See, whe'r their basest metal be not mov'd;
You know, it is the feast of Lupercal3.
Who else would soar above the view of men,
See, WHE'R] Printed where in the old copies, to indicate that it was to be considered a monosyllable: the folio, 1623, is by no means uniform in the practice. Mr. Craik ("English of Shakespeare," p. 74) on this point quotes Shakespeare's 59th Sonnet, but he obviously took Malone's representation of the text of the edition of 1609, without referring to it: the line there is, not
"Whether we are mended, or whe'r better they,"
"Whether we are mended, or where better they;" meaning, whether we are mended, or in what respects they are better. In the very next line of the sonnet "whether" is again printed at length, because no abbreviation of the word was required,
"Or whether revolution be the same."
All the poets of Shakespeare's age sometimes used "whether" as a monosyllable. 5 You know, it is the feast of LUPERCAL.] An annual festival in Rome in honour of Pan, celebrated, some say, on the 13th, and others on the 15th of February. Antony, as was the custom, ran nearly naked through the streets, and on this occasion it was that he offered Cæsar the crown. Malone quotes the passage from North's "Plutarch" (Life of Cæsar, p. 791), professing to give it literally it consists of only about twelve lines, but he commits more errors than there are lines, and those errors have been still further multiplied by his successors: Mr. Singer makes the variations amount to more than twenty, and we would subjoin the extract accurately, did it at all materially explain or illustrate the text of Shakespeare. We should not have noticed the fact, if it had not been easy, in a case of this kind, to verify a quotation: it is not at all times possible to do so, on account of the extreme rarity of the works cited.