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Oh! you and I have heard our fathers say,
That you do love me, I am nothing jealous;
Cassius, well pleased to have proceeded thus far, forbore to press the subject any further now; but resolving that the awakened fire of freedom in Bruus's breast should not slumber, he caused letters to
written in various hands, and thrown in at his window, put under his seat in the senate house, and
g upon the statue of his great ancestor. These letters contained but few words, yet all tending to
a same purpose:
Brutus, thou sleep'st; awake, and see thyself.
Thus called upon, as it appeared, by his countrymen, his lofty mind was agonized between his love of Cæsar and the love of freedom. Truly Roman, all private feelings must be sacrificed to the public welfare; so Brutus thought: yet the struggle was great. The ancient Roman honour was of that masculine kind, where every soft and gentle impulse was expelled; and the sternness of Roman virtue disdained to listen to the appeals of tenderness. Every feeling was subdued to that one term honour; and to this honour Brutus, the great Brutus, yielded his affection and gratitude. His obligations towards Cæsar were indeed great; he fought against him, in that fatal battle where Pompey had been defeated, and became Cæsar's prisoner! his wife, his liberty in his hands: yet Cæsar not only forgave, but received him to his favour, loaded him with honours, and loved him as a father loves a son. Brutus was Cæsar's idol.; yet Brutus could raise his arm against Cæsar. Could pierce the breast that loved him, and called it virtue-honour-freedom! and so it was in Brutus; though strained too far. In him it was the soul of honour, the love of his country's freedom. In Cassius it was but a mask: yet Cassius loudly talked of honour, as if that had been the only sentiment which filled his breast.
Refulgent honour! eagle-winged thou art;
Cesar was loved as Cassius would have been;
From the time when Cassius first spoke to Brutus on the subject of Cæsar's ambition, the latter had known no rest. The frequent attacks made upon him by the papers thrown in his way-the artful flattery of Cassius and of the other conspirators operated on his mind, and he felt himself called upon by his country to strike at the heart of him who might subvert her freedom: yet Brutus saw nothing in Cæsar dangerous, no reason to suppose that power would lead him to injustice-save, in his general opinion, that the weakness of human nature is seldom able to endure unlimited power, and still preserve its judgment. With the fear of what might be, he was impelled to conspire against the life of him he loved. Not that Cæsar, as.Cæsar only, was dangerous-but that Cæsar, as king of Rome, might eventually become so, and to this fear a valuable life must be sacrificed.
The wife of Brutus, Portia, was daughter of Cato the censor, a nobleminded woman, worthy to be the wife of Brutus and Cato's daughter. She had long beheld with pain the unsettled state of her husband's mind, and her affection led her to inquire the cause of his anxieties; but, equally conscious of the greatness of her husband's character, and the usual weakness of her own sex, she resolved first to prove whether she had constancy and strength of mind sufficient to render her worthy of partaking in the secret counsels of Brutus: for no light cause, she was well assured, could disturb his serenity. Dismissing her attendants, therefore, she with a knife gave herself
a deep wound in the thigh, to ascertain whether she could bear pain with fortitude; and having thus proved her strength, she implored Brutus to impart to her the cause of his sorrow. At first he waved her questions, saying he was not in health. "Not so, my Lord," replied Portia.
Brutus is wise; and were he not in health,
She then exerted her very utmost eloquence; knelt and implored him; declaring, if he refused, that he considered her his mistress, not his wife. At length, overpowered by her persuasion, he imparted the secret to her; and she, who loved him with the greatest tenderness, was now plunged in deeper anxiety for his fate, and the success of his daring enterprise.
The conspirators' meetings were frequent; and their plans ripe for execution; yet had they been conducted with so much prudence and secrecy, that they were little suspected. Some, who had an idea of conspiracy, hinted their apprehensions of Brutus to Cæsar, but vainly; he would not listen to their admonitions. Such was his confidence in Brutus, that while he considered him worthy of empire, he yet felt assured that Brutus would never aim at that exaltation, through any means of ingratitude or baseness; and, smiling upon those who cautioned him, said "Brutus will wait for this skin." Of Cassius however he had suspicions; and frequently expressed his dislike of thin spare men, who were ever musing, and seldom slept; of which number Cassius
On that dreadful night, when the whole city of Rome was thrown into alarm by the violence of the storm, the conspirators met at the house of Brutus, to make their last final arrangements previous to the morning, which was to be the last of Cæsar's life.
When the page Lucius announced the arrival of Cassius and others, describing them as muffled so closely that he could not by any means discern who they were, the noble Brutus shuddered at his own unworthiness, and began to reflect, whether any action could be considered honourable or praiseworthy, which feared the eye of day, and even shrunk beneath the gloom of night. "What," he cried, "is it thus ?"
Sham'st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy;
For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
To hide thee from prevention.***
In the morning Cæsar's mind was disturbed; the horrors of the night had kept him waking; and thrice Calphurnia his wife had in her broken slumbers cried out, Help! ho! they murder Cæsar !" then starting, awoke, and told her thrice-repeated dream. She saw the statue of Cæsar spouting forth blood in various directions, and many Romans, smiling as in joy, bathed their hands in the crimson stream! This horrible dream, with which her sleep was haunted, together with the perils of the night, and the many strange portentous events which had occurred, filled the mind of Calphurnia with dread ; and she earnestly implored of Cæsar that he would not go forth that day. He smiled at her fears, saying, these predictions were for the world in general; why suppose that they applied to him in particular ? Yet Cæsar was certainly not so free from anxiety as he wished to appear, having already despatched orders to the priests to offer sacrifices, and bring him speedily an account of their success. While Calphuraia was entreating, a servant came to an