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having taken up the same ground with Shakespeare in the present Play:
Sure to tell
To the judicious. But in what year The False One was brought out is not known. It certainly was not before 1608 or 1609.
Finally, it has been remarked that the quarrel scene between Brutus and Cassius, in Shakespeare's Play, has evidently formed the model for a similar one between the two friends Melantius and Amintor, in the Third Act of Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid's Tragedy. All that is known, however, of the date of that Play is, that it was probably brought out before 1611, in which year another Play, entitled The Second Maiden's Tragedy, was licensed. But even this is doubtful; for there is no resemblance, or connection of any kind, except that of the names, between the two Plays.*
* “This tragedy,” says Malone “ (as I learn from a MS. of Mr. Oldys), was formerly in the possession of John Warburton, Esq., Somerset Herald, and since in the library of the Marquis of Lansdown.” (Chronological Order, 450.) It is one of the three Plays which escaped destruction by Mr. Warburton's cook. It has now been printed “from the original MS., 1611, in the Lansdown Collection” (British Museum), in the First No. of The Old English Drama, Lon. 1824-25, the eight Nos. of which, making two vols., are commonly regarded as making a supplement to the last, or 12 volume edition of Dodsley. The title of The Second Maiden's Tragedy appears to have been given to the present Play by Sir George Buc, the master of the Revels. The MS., he states, had no name inscribed on it. On the back of the MS. the Play is attributed to William Goughe. Afterwards William has been altered to Thomas. Then this name has been obliterated, and George Chapman substituted. Finally, this too has been scored through, and the authorship assigned to William Shakspear.
On the whole, it may be inferred, from these slight evidences, that the present Play can hardly be assigned to a later date than the year 1607; but there is nothing to prove that it may not be of considerably earlier date.
It is evident that the character and history of Julius Cæsar had taken a strong hold of Shakespeare's imagination. There is perhaps no other historical character who is so repeatedly alluded to throughout his Plays.
“ There was never anything so sudden,” says the disguised Rosalind in As You Like It (v. 2) to Orlando, speaking of the manner in which his brother Oliver nd her cousin (or sister, as
ne calls her) Celia had fallen in love with one another, “but the fight of two rams, and Cæsar's thrasonical brag of I came, saw, and overcame : for your
brother and my sister no sooner met, but they looked; no sooner looked, but they loved; no sooner loved, but they sighed;" etc.
“O ! such a day,” exclaims Lord Bardolph in the Second Part of King Henry the Fourth (i. 1) to old Northumberland, in his misannouncement of the issue of the field of Shrewsbury,
So fought, so honoured, and so fairly won,
Since Cæsar's fortunes. And afterwards (in iv. 3) we have Falstaff's magnificent gasconade: “I have speeded hither with the very extremest inch [?] of possibility : I have foundered ninescore and odd posts; and here, traveltainted as I am, have, in my pure and immaculate valour, taken Sir John Coleville of the Dale, a most furious (famous ?] knight, and valorous enemy. But what of that? He saw me, and yielded; that I may justly say, with the hook-nosed fellow of Rome, I came, saw, and overcame.”
“ But now behold,” says the Chorus in the Fifth Act of King Henry the Fifth, describing the triumphant return of the English monarch from the conquest of France,
In the quick forge and working-house of thought,
Go forth, and fetch their conquering Cæsar in. In the three Parts of King Henry the Sixth, which are so thickly sprinkled with classical allusions of all kinds, there are several to the great Roman Dictator. “Henry the Fifth! thy ghost I invocate;" the Duke of Bedford apostrophizes his deceased brother in the First Part (i. 1):
Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils !
Than Julius Cæsar, or bright In the next Scene the Maid, setting out to raise the siege of Orleans, and deliver her king and country, compares herself to
that proud insulting ship Which Cæsar and his fortunes bare at once. In the Second Part (iv. I) we have Suffolk, when hurried away to execution by the seamen who had captured him, consoling himself with —
Great men oft die by vile bezonians:
Pompey the great; and Suffolk dies by pirates.
what similar circumstances, thus appealing to Cade and his mob of men of Kent:
Hear me but speak, and bear me where you will.
Which makes me hope you are not void of pity. “O traitors! murderers !” Queen Margaret in the Third Part (v. 5) shrieks out in her agony and rage, when the Prince her son is butchered before her eyes:
They that stabbed Cæsar shed no blood at all, Did not offend, nor were not worthy blame, If this foul deed were by to sequel it: He was a man; this, in respect, a child; And men ne'er spend their fury on a child. In King Richard the Third (iii. 1) is a passage of great pregnancy. “Did Julius Cæsar build that place, my lord?” the young Prince asks Buckingham, when it is proposed that he shall retire for a day or two to the Tower before his coronation. And, when informed in reply that the mighty Roman at least began the building, he further inquires,
Is it upon record, or else reported
Successively from age to age, he built it? "It is upon record, my gracious lord,” answers Buckingham. On which the wise royal boy rejoins,
But say, my lord, it were not registered,
Even to the general all-ending day.
say you, uncle?” he explains the great thought that was working in his mind in these striking words :
That Julius Cæsar was a famous man:
For now he lives in fame, though not in life. Far away from anything Roman as the fable and locality of Hamlet are, various passages testify how much Cæsar was in the mind of Shakespeare while writing that Play. First, we have the famous passage (i. I) so closely resembling one in the Second Scene of the Second Act of Julius Cæsar:
In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. I Then there is (iii. 2) the conversation between Hamlet and Polónius, touching the histrionic exploits of the latter in his university days: “I did enact Julius Cæsar: I was killed i' the Capitol ; Brutus killed me.” “ It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there” (surely, by the by, to be spoken aside, though not so marked). Lastly, there is the Prince's rhyming moralization (v.i):
Imperial Cæsar, dead and turned to clay,
* " His conqueror is the reading of all the Folios. “ This” was restored by Theobald from the Quarto of 1597, and has been adopted by Malone and most modern editors.
† Something is evidently wrong here; but even Mr. Collier's annotator gives us no help.
# This passage, however, is found only in the Quartos, and is omitted in all the Folios. Nor, although retained by Mr. Collier in his “regulated ” text, is it stated to be restored by his MS. annotator.