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822.33 JA961 Gal. Vi


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the regal crown was offered to him by Antony. On the 15th of March in the same year, he was slain. November 27th, A. U. C. 710, the triumvirs net at a small island, formed by the river Rhenus, near Bononia, and there adjusted their cruel proscription. A. U. C. 711, Brutus and Cassius were defeated near Philippi.

Gildon long ago remarked that Brutus was the true hero of this tragedy, and not Cæsar; Schlegel makes the same observation: the Poet has portrayed the character of Brutus with peculiar care, and developed all the amiable traits, the feeling, and patriotic heroism of it, with supereminent skill. He has been less happy in personifying Cæsar, to whom he has given several ostentatious speeches, unsuited to his character, if we may judge from the impression made upon us by his own Commentaries. The character of Cassius is also touched with great nicety and discrimination, and is admirably contrasted to that of Brutus: his superiority" in independent volition, and his discernment in judging of human affairs, are pointed out;" while the purity of mind and conscientious love of justice in Brutus, unfit him to be the head of a party in a state entirely corrupted; these amiable failings give, in fact, an unfortunate turn to the cause of the conspirators. The play abounds in well-wrought and affecting scenes: it is scarcely necessary to mention the celebrated dialogue between Brutus and Cassius, in which the design of the conspiracy is opened to Brutus;-the quarrel between them, rendered doubly touching by the close, when Cassius learns the death of Portia; and which one is surprised to think that any critic, susceptible of feeling, should pronounce "cold and unaffecting; "—the scene between Brutus and Portia, where she endeavors to extort the secret of the conspiracy from him, in which is that heart-thrilling burst of tenderness, which Portia's heroic behavior awakens

"You are my true and honorable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart."

The speeches of Mark Antony over the dead body of Cæsar, and the artful eloquence with which he captivates the multitude, are justly classed among the happiest effusions of poetic declamation.

There are also those touches of nature interspersed, which we should seck in vain in the works of any other poet. In the otherwise beautiful scene with Lucius, an incident of this kind is introduced, which, though wholly immaterial to the plot or conduct of the scene, is perfectly congenial to the character of the agent, and beautifully illustrative of it. The sedate and philosophic Brutus, discomposed a little by the stupendous cares upon his mind, forgets where he had left his book of recreation :—

"Look, Lucius, here's the book I sought for so."

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