Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Julius Cæsar
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Julius Cæsar
Act II. Scene I.
Rome.  BRUTUS’ Orchard.
  Bru.  What, Lucius! ho!
I cannot, by the progress of the stars,
Give guess how near to day. Lucius, I say!        5
I would it were my fault to sleep so soundly.
When, Lucius, when! Awake, I say! what, Lucius!
  Luc.  Call’d you, my lord?
  Bru.  Get me a taper in my study, Lucius:        10
When it is lighted, come and call me here.
  Luc.  I will, my lord.  [Exit.
  Bru.  It must be by his death: and, for my part,
I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
But for the general. He would be crown’d:        15
How that might change his nature, there’s the question:
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder;
And that craves wary walking. Crown him?—that!
And then, I grant, we put a sting in him,
That at his will he may do danger with.        20
The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
Remorse from power; and, to speak truth of Cæsar,
I have not known when his affections sway’d
More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,        25
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend. So Cæsar may:        30
Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the quarrel
Will bear no colour for the thing he is;
Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented,
Would run to these and these extremities;
And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg        35
Which, hatch’d, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
And kill him in the shell.
Re-enter LUCIUS.
  Luc.  The taper burneth in your closet, sir.
Searching the window for a flint, I found        40
This paper, thus seal’d up; and I am sure
It did not lie there when I went to bed.
  Bru.  Get you to bed again; it is not day.
Is not to-morrow, boy, the ides of March?
  Luc.  I know not, sir.        45
  Bru.  Look in the calendar, and bring me word.
  Luc.  I will, sir.  [Exit.
  Bru.  The exhalations whizzing in the air
Give so much light that I may read by them.  [Opens the letter.
Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake and see thyself.        50
Shall Rome, &c. Speak, strike, redress!
Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake!
Such instigations have been often dropp’d
Where I have took them up.
‘Shall Rome, &c.’ Thus must I piece it out:        55
Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe? What, Rome?
My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
The Tarquin drive, when he was call’d a king.
‘Speak, strike, redress!’ Am I entreated
To speak, and strike? O Rome! I make thee promise;        60
If the redress will follow, thou receiv’st
Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!
Re-enter LUCIUS.
  Luc.  Sir, March is wasted fourteen days.  [Knocking within.
  Bru.  ’Tis good. Go to the gate: somebody knocks.  [Exit LUCIUS.        65
Since Cassius first did whet me against Cæsar,
I have not slept.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream:        70
The genius and the mortal instruments
Are then in council; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.
Re-enter LUCIUS.
  Luc.  Sir, ’tis your brother Cassius at the door,
Who doth desire to see you.
  Bru.        Is he alone?
  Luc.  No, sir, there are more with him.
  Bru.        Do you know them?        80
  Luc.  No, sir; their hats are pluck’d about their ears,
And half their faces buried in their cloaks,
That by no means I may discover them
By any mark of favour.
  Bru.        Let ’em enter.  [Exit LUCIUS.        85
They are the faction. O conspiracy!
Sham’st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
When evils are most free? O! then by day
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy;        90
Hide it in smiles and affability:
For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.
  Cas.  I think we are too bold upon your rest:
Good morrow, Brutus; do we trouble you?
  Bru.  I have been up this hour, awake all night.
Know I these men that come along with you?
  Cas.  Yes, every man of them; and no man here        100
But honours you; and every one doth wish
You had but that opinion of yourself
Which every noble Roman bears of you.
This is Trebonius.
  Bru.        He is welcome hither.        105
  Cas.  This, Decius Brutus.
  Bru.        He is welcome too.
  Cas.  This, Casca; this, Cinna;
And this, Metellus Cimber.
  Bru.        They are all welcome.        110
What watchful cares do interpose themselves
Betwixt your eyes and night?
  Cas.  Shall I entreat a word?  [BRUTUS and CASSIUS whisper.
  Dec.  Here lies the east: doth not the day break here?
  Casca.  No.        115
  Cin.  O! pardon, sir, it doth; and yon grey lines
That fret the clouds are messengers of day.
  Casca.  You shall confess that you are both deceiv’d.
Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises;
Which is a great way growing on the south,        120
Weighing the youthful season of the year.
Some two months hence up higher toward the north
He first presents his fire; and the high east
Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.
  Bru.  Give me your hands all over, one by one.        125
  Cas.  And let us swear our resolution.
  Bru.  No, not an oath: if not the face of men,
The sufferance of our souls, the time’s abuse,
If these be motives weak, break off betimes,
And every man hence to his idle bed;        130
So let high-sighted tyranny range on,
Till each man drop by lottery. But if these,
As I am sure they do, bear fire enough
To kindle cowards and to steel with valour
The melting spirits of women, then, countrymen,        135
What need we any spur but our own cause
To prick us to redress? what other bond
Than secret Romans, that have spoke the word
And will not palter? and what other oath
Than honesty to honesty engag’d,        140
That this shall be, or we will fall for it?
Swear priests and cowards and men cautelous,
Old feeble carrions and such suffering souls
That welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear
Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain        145
The even virtue of our enterprise,
Nor th’ insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
To think that or our cause or our performance
Did need an oath; when every drop of blood
That every Roman bears, and nobly bears,        150
Is guilty of a several bastardy,
If he do break the smallest particle
Of any promise that hath pass’d from him.
  Cas.  But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?
I think he will stand very strong with us.        155
  Casca.  Let us not leave him out.
  Cin.        No, by no means.
  Met.  O! let us have him; for his silver hairs
Will purchase us a good opinion
And buy men’s voices to commend our deeds:        160
It shall be said his judgment rul’d our hands;
Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
But all be buried in his gravity.
  Bru.  O! name him not: let us not break with him;
For he will never follow any thing        165
That other men begin.
  Cas.        Then leave him out.
  Casca.  Indeed he is not fit.
  Dec.  Shall no man else be touch’d but only Cæsar?
  Cas.  Decius, well urg’d. I think it is not meet,        170
Mark Antony, so well belov’d of Cæsar,
Should outlive Cæsar: we shall find of him
A shrewd contriver; and, you know, his means,
If he improve them, may well stretch so far
As to annoy us all; which to prevent,        175
Let Antony and Cæsar fall together.
  Bru.  Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius,
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs,
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
For Antony is but a limb of Cæsar.        180
Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
We all stand up against the spirit of Cæsar;
And in the spirit of men there is no blood:
O! then that we could come by Cæsar’s spirit,
And not dismember Cæsar. But, alas!        185
Cæsar must bleed for it. And, gentle friends,
Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds:
And let our hearts, as subtle masters do,        190
Stir up their servants to an act of rage,
And after seem to chide ’em. This shall make
Our purpose necessary and not envious;
Which so appearing to the common eyes,
We shall be call’d purgers, not murderers.        195
And, for Mark Antony, think not of him;
For he can do no more than Cæsar’s arm
When Cæsar’s head is off.
  Cas.        Yet I fear him;
For in the engrafted love he bears to Cæsar—        200
  Bru.  Alas! good Cassius, do not think of him:
If he love Cæsar, all that he can do
Is to himself, take thought and die for Cæsar:
And that were much he should; for he is given
To sports, to wildness, and much company.        205
  Treb.  There is no fear in him; let him not die:
For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter.  [Clock strikes.
  Bru.  Peace! count the clock.
  Cas.        The clock hath stricken three.
  Treb.  ’Tis time to part.        210
  Cas.        But it is doubtful yet
Whether Cæsar will come forth to-day or no;
For he is superstitious grown of late,
Quite from the main opinion he held once
Of fantasy, of dreams, and ceremonies.        215
It may be, these apparent prodigies,
The unaccustom’d terror of this night,
And the persuasion of his augurers,
May hold him from the Capitol to-day.
  Dec.  Never fear that: if he be so resolv’d,        220
I can o’ersway him; for he loves to hear
That unicorns may be betray’d with trees,
And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,
Lions with toils, and men with flatterers;
But when I tell him he hates flatterers,        225
He says he does, being then most flattered.
Let me work;
For I can give his humour the true bent,
And I will bring him to the Capitol.
  Cas.  Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him.        230
  Bru.  By the eighth hour: is that the uttermost?
  Cin.  Be that the uttermost, and fail not then.
  Met.  Caius Ligarius doth bear Cæsar hard,
Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey:
I wonder none of you have thought of him.        235
  Bru.  Now, good Metellus, go along by him:
He loves me well, and I have given him reasons;
Send him but hither, and I’ll fashion him.
  Cas.  The morning comes upon ’s: we’ll leave you, Brutus.
And, friends, disperse yourselves; but all remember        240
What you have said, and show yourselves true Romans.
  Bru.  Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily;
Let not our looks put on our purposes,
But bear it as our Roman actors do,
With untir’d spirits and formal constancy:        245
And so good morrow to you every one.  [Exeunt all except BRUTUS.
Boy! Lucius! Fast asleep? It is no matter;
Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber:
Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies
Which busy care draws in the brains of men;        250
Therefore thou sleep’st so sound.
  Por.        Brutus, my lord!
  Bru.  Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now?
It is not for your health thus to commit        255
Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.
  Por.  Nor for yours neither. You’ve ungently, Brutus,
Stole from my bed; and yesternight at supper
You suddenly arose, and walk’d about,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across,        260
And when I ask’d you what the matter was,
You star’d upon me with ungentle looks.
I urg’d you further; then you scratch’d your head,
And too impatiently stamp’d with your foot;
Yet I insisted, yet you answer’d not,        265
But, with an angry wafture of your hand,
Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did,
Fearing to strengthen that impatience
Which seem’d too much enkindled, and withal
Hoping it was but an effect of humour,        270
Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep,
And could it work so much upon your shape
As it hath much prevail’d on your condition,
I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord,        275
Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
  Bru.  I am not well in health, and that is all.
  Por.  Brutus is wise, and were he not in health,
He would embrace the means to come by it.
  Bru.  Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed.        280
  Por.  Is Brutus sick, and is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humours
Of the dank morning? What! is Brutus sick,
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed
To dare the vile contagion of the night,        285
And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air
To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus;
You have some sick offence within your mind,
Which, by the right and virtue of my place,
I ought to know of; and, upon my knees,        290
I charm you, by my once-commended beauty,
By all your vows of love, and that great vow
Which did incorporate and make us one,
That you unfold to me, your self, your half,
Why are you heavy, and what men to-night        295
Have had resort to you; for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
Even from darkness.
  Bru.        Kneel not, gentle Portia.
  Por.  I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.        300
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted, I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
But, as it were, in sort of limitation,
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,        305
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.
  Bru.  You are my true and honourable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops        310
That visit my sad heart.
  Por.  If this were true then should I know this secret.
I grant I am a woman, but, withal,
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife;
I grant I am a woman, but, withal,        315
A woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father’d and so husbanded?
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose ’em.
I have made strong proof of my constancy,        320
Giving myself a voluntary wound
Here, in the thigh: can I bear that with patience
And not my husband’s secrets?
  Bru.        O ye gods!
Render me worthy of this noble wife.  [Knocking within.        325
Hark, hark! one knocks. Portia, go in awhile;
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All my engagements I will construe to thee,
All the charactery of my sad brows.        330
Leave me with haste.  [Exit PORTIA.
        Lucius, who’s that knocks?
Re-enter LUCIUS with LIGARIUS.
  Luc.  Here is a sick man that would speak with you.
  Bru.  Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spoke of.
Boy, stand aside. Caius Ligarius! how?        335
  Lig.  Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.
  Bru.  O! what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,
To wear a kerchief. Would you were not sick.
  Lig.  I am not sick if Brutus have in hand
Any exploit worthy the name of honour.        340
  Bru.  Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,
Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.
  Lig.  By all the gods that Romans bow before
I here discard my sickness. Soul of Rome!
Brave son, deriv’d from honourable loins!        345
Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjur’d up
My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible;
Yea, get the better of them, What’s to do?
  Bru.  A piece of work that will make sick men whole.        350
  Lig.  But are not some whole that we must make sick?
  Bru.  That must we also. What it is, my Caius,
I shall unfold to thee as we are going
To whom it must be done.
  Lig.        Set on your foot,        355
And with a heart new-fir’d I follow you,
To do I know not what; but it sufficeth
That Brutus leads me on.
  Bru.        Follow me then.  [Exeunt.

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