Julius Caesar

by: William Shakespeare

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FOURTH PLEBEIAN

Now mark him. He begins again to speak.

FOURTH PLEBEIAN

Now listen, he’s going to speak again.

ANTONY

But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world. Now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence.
120O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong—
Who, you all know, are honorable men.
I will not do them wrong. I rather choose
125To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honorable men.
But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar.
I found it in his closet. 'Tis his will.
Let but the commons hear this testament—
130Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read—
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
135Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.

ANTONY

Only yesterday the word of Caesar might have stood against the world. Now he lies there worth nothing, and no one is so humble as to show him respect. Oh, sirs, if I stirred your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage, I would offend Brutus and Cassius, who, you all know, are honorable men. I will not do them wrong. I would rather wrong the dead, and wrong myself and you, than wrong such honorable men. But here’s a paper with Caesar’s seal on it. I found it in his room—it’s his will. If you could only hear this testament—which, excuse me, I don’t intend to read aloud—you would kiss dead Caesar’s wounds and dip your handkerchiefs in his sacred blood, and beg for a lock of hair to remember him by. And when you died, you would mention the handkerchief or the hair in your will, bequeathing it to your heirs like a rich legacy.

FOURTH PLEBEIAN

We’ll hear the will. Read it, Mark Antony!

FOURTH PLEBEIAN

We want to hear the will. Read it, Mark Antony.

ALL

The will, the will! We will hear Caesar’s will.

ALL

The will, the will! We want to hear Caesar’s will.

ANTONY

Have patience, gentle friends. I must not read it.
140It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men.
And, being men, bearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad.
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs.
145For, if you should—Oh, what would come of it!

ANTONY

Be patient, gentle friends, I must not read it. It isn’t proper for you to know how much Caesar loved you. You aren’t wood, you aren’t stones—you’re men. And, being men, the contents of Caesar’s will would enrage you. It’s better that you don’t know you’re his heirs, for if you knew, just imagine what would come of it!