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Tus tragedy, there can be no reasonable doubt, was first published in the folio collection of 1623, where it is printed with, for that volume, a remarkable exemption from typographical inaccuracies. The date of its production is less certain. Malone, in his “ Attempt to ascertain the order in which the Plays of Shakespeare were written,” concludes that it could not have been composed before 1607; but, as his argument mainly rests upon the fact that a tragedy with the same title by William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Sterline, was printed in London that year,* from which he conjectured Shakespeare had derived one or two ideas, it cannot be regarded as satisfactory. Upon safer grounds, we think, Mr. Collier believes that Shakespeare's " Julius Cæsar” was written and acted, before 1603. In Act V. Sc. 5, it will be remembered, Antony pays a beautiful tribute to the character of Brutus,
“ His life was gentle ; and the elements
So mir'd in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, This was a man!" Referring to this passage, Mr. Collier observes, “In Drayton's · Barons' Wars,' Book III. edit. 8vo. 1603, p. 61, we meet with the subsequent stanza. The author is speaking of Mortimer :
«Such one he was, of him we boldly say,
In whose rich soul all sovereign powers did suit,
In him it show'd perfection of a man.' Italic type is hardly necessary to establish that one poet must have availed himself, not only of the thought, but of the very words of the other. The question is, was Shakespeare indebted to Drayton, or Drayton to Shakespeare? We shall not enter into general probabilities, founded upon the original and exhaustless stores of the mind of our great dramatist, but advert to a few dates, which,
we think, warrant the conclusion that Drayton, having heard · Julius Cæsar' at a theatre, or seen it in manuscript, before 1603, applied to his own purpose, perhaps unconsciously, what, in fact, belonged to another poet.
“ Drayton's · Barons' Wars' first appeared in 1596, 4to., under the title of · Mortimeriados. Malone had a copy without date, and he and Steevens erroneously imagined that the poem had been originally printed in 1598. In the 4to. of 1596, and in the undated edition, it is not divided into books, and is in seven-line stanzas; and what is there said of Mortimer bears no likeness whatever to Shakespeare's expressions in Julius Cæsar.' Drayton afterwards changed the title from Mortimeriados' to The Barons' Wars,' and remodelled the whole historical poem, altering the stanza from the English ballad form to the Italian ottava rima. This course he took before 1603, when it came out in octavo, with the stanza first quoted, which contains so marked a similarity to the lines from · Julius Cæsar.' We apprehend that he did so, because he had heard or seen Shakespeare's tragedy before 1603; and we think that strong presumptive proof that he was the borrower and not Shakespeare, is derived from the fact, that in the subsequent impressions of the · Barons' Wars,' in 1605, 1607, 1608, 1610, and 1613, the stanza remained precisely as in the edition of 1603: but in 1619, after Shakespeare's death and before · Julius Cæsar' was printed, Drayton made even a nearer approach to the words of his original, thus:
* It was published in Scotland, of which Malone was not aware, three years before.
“He was a man, then boldly dare to say,
In whose rich soul the virtuies well did suit;
We think it will be admitted that Mr. Collier has made out a very strong case,—all bat proved, indeed, that in this instance Drayton was the borrower, and, as a consequence, that Shakespeare's tragedy is of an earlier date by some years than Malone and others had supposed.
The material incidents of this tragedy appear to have been derived from North’s translation of Plutarch ; but as there was a Latin play upon the subject of Cæsar—" Epilogus Cæsaris Interfecti,” &c.—written by Dr. Richard Eedes, which was played at Christ's Church Coll., Oxford, in 1582, and an old anonymous play in English, of the same age, it is possible that Shakespeare may have incurred some obligations to one or both of these.
Triumvirs, after the death
of Julius Cæsar.
Flavius and MARULLUS, Tribunes.
and VOLUMNIUS; Friends to Brutus and
DARDANIUS ; Servants to Brutus.
CALPHURNIA, Wife to Julius Cæsar.
Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, dc.
SCENE, --During a great part of the Play at Rome; afterwards at Sardis; and near Pulipp.
Enter FLAVIUS, MARULLUS," and a rabble of 2 Cit. Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, Citizens.
I am but, as you would say, a cobbler.
MAR. But what trade art thou ? Answer me Flav. Hence ! home, you idle creatures, get
2 Cır. A trade, sir, that I hope I may use Is this a holiday? What! know you not, with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a Being mechanical, you ought not walk
mender of bad soles. Upon a labouring day, without the sign
Mar. What trade, thou knave? thou naughty of your profession ?-Speak, what trade art knave, what trade ? " thou?
2 Cit. Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out 1 Cit. Why, sir, a carpenter.
with me: yet if you be out, sir, I can mend Mar. Where is thy leather apron and thy you. rule?
Mar. What meanest thou by that ? Mend What dost thou with thy best apparel on ?
fellow ? You, sir, what trade are you ?
2 Cor. Why, sir, cobble you. a Marullus,–] A correction first made by Theobald, the old c What trade, thou knave ? &c.) In the old copies this speech text having throughout, Murellus.
is erroneously assigned to Flavius. b - directly.) Explicitly, without ambiguity.
Flav. Thou art a cobbler, art thou ?
you down that way towards the Capitol ; 2 Cit. Truly, sir, all that I live by is with This way will I: disrobe the images, the awl: I meddle with no tradesman's matters, If you do find them deck'd with ceremonies. nor women's matters, but with awl.* I am, indeed, Mar. May we do so ? sir, a surgeon to old shoes; when they are in You know it is the feast of Lupercal. great danger, I re-cover them. As proper men Flav. It is no matter; let no images as ever trod upon neat’s-leather have gone upon Be hung with Cæsar's trophies. I 'll about, my handiwork
And drive away the vulgar from the streets : Flav. But wherefore art not in thy shop to- So do you too, where you perceive them thick. day?
These growing feathers pluck'd from Cæsar's Why dost thou lead these men about the streets ?
wing 2 Cir. Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to Will make him fly an ordinary pitch ; get myself into more work. But, indeed, sir, we Who else would soar above the view of men, make holiday, to see Cæsar, and to rejoice in his and keep us all in servile fearfulness. [Exeunt. triumph. MAR. Wherefore rejoice ? What conquest
brings he home ? What tributaries follow him to Rome,
SCENE II.-The same. A public Place. To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels ? You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless Enter, in procession, with music, CÆSAR; ANthings !
TONY, for the course ; CALPHURNIA, PORTIA, O, you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
DECIUS, CICERO, BRUTUS, Cassius, and Knew you not Pompey ? Many a time and oft Casca, a great crowd following; among Have
them a Soothsayer.
Peace, ho! Cæsar speaks. To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome:
[Music ceases. And when you saw his chariot but appear,
Calphurnia, Have you not made an universal shout
CAL. Here, my
lord. That Tiber trembled underneath her banks,
Cæs. Stand you directly in Antonius' way, To hear the replication of your sounds,
When he doth run his course.(1)-Antonius, Made in her concave shores?
Ant. Cæsar, my lord. And do you now put on your best attire ?
Cæs. Forget not, in your speed, Antonius, And do you now cull out a holiday ?
To touch Calphurnia ; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
I shall remember: Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, When Cæsar says, Do this, it is perform’d. Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
Cæs. Set on; and leave no ceremony out. That needs must light on this ingratitude.
[Music. Flav. Go, go, good countrymen, and, for this Sooth. Cæsar ! fault,
Cæs. Ha! Who calls ? Assemble all the poor men of your sort ;
Casca. Bid every noise be still :- peace yet Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears
[Music ceases. Into the channel, till the lowest stream
Cæs. Who is it in the press that calls on me? Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
[Exeunt Citizens. Cry, Cæsar. Speak; Cæsar is turn'd to hear. See, whêr their basest metal be not mov'd;
Sooth. Beware the ides of March. They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness.
What man is that?
a I meddle with no tradesman's matters, &c.] Parmer conjectured that the true reading is, “I meddle with no trade, man's matters," &c.; and, substituting trades for trade, we incline to his opinion.
b Wherefore rejoice? &c.] “This was in the beginning of B. C. 44 (A. U. c. 709), when Cæsar, having returned from Spain in the preceding October, after defeating the sons of Pompey at the Battle of Munda (fought 17 March, B. c. 45), had been appointed Consul for the next ten years, and Dictator for life. The festival of the Lupercalia, at which he was offered and declined the crown,
was celebrated 13th February, B. C. 44, and he was assassinate: 15th March following, being then in his fifty-sixth year.' Crack's English of Shakespeare, p. 71.
- with ceremonies.) See note (C), p. 23, Vol. II.