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Auf. My lords, when you shall know (as in this rage, Provok'd by him, you cannot,) the great danger Which this man's life did owe you, you'll rejoice That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours To call me to your senate, I'll deliver Myself your loyal servant, or endure Your heaviest censure.
1 Lord. Bear from hence his body,
And mourn you for him: let him be regarded
1 Lord. His own impatience Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame. Let's make the best of it.
Auf. My rage is gone,
And I am struck with sorrow.—Take him up:—
'that ever herald
Did follow to his urn.] This allusion is to a custom unknown, I believe, to the ancients, but observed in the publick funerals of English princes, at the conclusion of which a herald proclaims the style of the deceased. Steevens.
* —— a noble memory.] Memory for memorial. 5 The tragedy of Coriolanus is one of the most amusing of our author's performances. The old man's merriment in Menenius; the lofty lady's dignity in Volumnia; the bridal modesty in Virgilia; the patrician and military haughtiness in Coriolanus; the plebeian malignity and tribunitian insolence in Brutus and Sicinius, make a very pleasing and interesting variety : and the various revolutions of the hero's fortune fill the mind with anxious curiosity. There is, perhaps, too much bustle in the first Act, and too little in the last. Johnson.
• Julius Cksar.] It appears from Peck's Collection of divert curious historical Pieces, &c. (appended to his Memoirs, &c. of Oliver Cromwell, J p. 14, that a Latin play on this subject had been written: "Epilogus Caesaris interfecti, quomodo in scenam prodiit ea res, acta, in Ecclesia Christi, Oxon. Qui Epilogus a Magistro Ricardo Eedes, et scriptus et in proscenio ibidem dictus fuit, A. D. 1582." Meres, whose Wit's Commonwealth was published in 1598, enumerates Dr. Eedes among the best tragick writers of that time. Steevens.
From some words spoken by Polonius in Hamlet, I think it probable that there was an English play on this subject, before Sriakspeare commenced a writer for the stage.
Stephen Gosson, in his School of Abuse, 1579» mentions a play entitled The History of Caesar and Pompey.
William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Sterline, wrote a tragedy on the story, and with the title of Julius Ccesar. It may be presumed that Shakspeare's play was posterior to his; for Lord Sterline, when he composed his Julius Ccesar, was a very young author, and would hardly have ventured into that circle, within which the most eminent dramatick writer of England had already walked. The death of Caesar, which is not exhibited but related to the audience, forms the catastrophe of his piece. In the two plays many parallel passages are found, which might, perhaps, have proceeded only from the two authors drawing from the same source. However, there are some reasons for thinking the coincidence more than accidental.
A passage in The Tempest, (p. 81,) seems to have been copied from one in Darius, another play of Lord Sterline's, printed at Edinburgh, in 1603. His Julius Ccesar appeared in 16*07, at a time when he was little acquainted with English writers; for both these pieces abound with Scotticisms, which, in the subsequent folio edition, 16*37, he corrected. But neither The Tempest nor the Julius Ca;sar of our author was printed till 1623.
. It should also be remembered, that our author has several plays, founded on subjects which had been previously treated by others. Of this kind are King John, King Richard II. the two parts of King Henry IV. King Henry V. King Richard III. King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, and, I believe, Hamlet, Timon of Athens, and the Second and Third Part of King Henry VI. whereas no proof has hitherto been produced, that any contemporary writer ever presumed to new model a story that had already employed the pen of Shakspeare. On all these grounds it appears more probable, that Shakspeare was indebted to Lord Sterline, than that Lord Sterline borrowed from Shakspeare. If this reasoning be just, this play could not have appeared before the year 1607. I believe it was produced in that year. Malone.