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OF

S HA KE S P E A RE

SELECTED AND PREPARED FOR USE IN

SCHOOLS.

WITH INTRODUCTIONS AND NOTES.

BY

THE REV. HENRY N. HUDSON.

NUMBER II.

· JULIUS CÆSAR.'

BOSTON:

GINN AND HEATH.

1878.

931

d 18778

A 1357

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the your 1871, INTRODUCTION TO JULIUS, CESAR

BY HENRY N. HUDSON,

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington,

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NAIS tragedy was first printed in the folio of 1623, and with the trouble about it, most of the errors being easily corrected. The date of the writing has been variously argued ; some placing the work in the middle period of the author's labours, others among the latest. I was fully satisfied long ago, from the style alone, that it belonged with the former. But, as no clear contemporary notice or allusion had been produced, the question could not be determined. It is now pretty certain, however, i hat the play was written as early as 1601, Mr. Hal. liwell having lately produced the following from Weever's Mirror of Martyrs, which was printed that year:

“ The many-headed multitude were drawn

By Brutus' speech, that Cæsar was ambitious:
When eloquent Mark Antony had shown

His virtuts, who but Brutus then was vicious ?As there is nothing in the history that could have suggested this, we can only ascribe it to some acquaintance with the play : so that the passage may be justly regarded as decisive of the question.

The historical matter of this play was taken from the Lives of Julius Cæsar, of Brutus, and of Antony, as set forth in Sir Thomas North’s translation of Pluturch, first published in 1579. In nearly all the leading incidents the charming old Greek is minutely followed, though in divers cases those incidents are worked out with surpassing fertil. ity of invention and art.' Any abstract of the Plutarchian matter may well be spared, since it would be little else than a repetition, in prose, of what the drama gives in a much better shape. On the 15th of February, B. C. 44, the feast of Lupercalia was held, when the crown was offered to Cæsar by Antony. On the 15th of March fol. lowing, Cæsar was slain. In November, B. C. 43, the Triumvirs, Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus, met on a small island near Bononia, and there made up their bloody proscription. The overthrow of Brutus and Cassius, near Philippi, took place in the Fall of the next year. So that the events of the drama cover a period of something over two years and a half.

Several critics of high judgment have found fault with the naming of this play, on the ground that Brutus, and not Cæsar, is the hero of it. It is indeed true that Brutus is the hero; nevertheless the play is, I think, rightly named, inasmuch as Cæsar is not only the subject but also the governing power throughout. He is the centre and spring-head of the entire action, giving law and shape to all that is said and done. This is manifestly true in what occurs before his death; and it is true in a still deeper sense afterwards, since his genius then becomes the Nemesis or retributive Providence, presiding over the whole course of the drama. Accordingly, the key-note of the play is rightly given by Brutus near the close :

“O, Julius Cæsar, thou art mighty yet !

Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords

In our own proper entrails." The characterization is, I confess, in some parts not a little perplexing to me. I do not feel quite sure as to the temper of mind in which the Poet conceived some of the persons, or why he should have given them the aspect they wear in the play. For instance, Cæsar is far from being himself in these scenes hardly one of the speeches

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