Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
 
Poems of Friendship
Quarrel of Brutus and Cassius
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From “Julius Cæsar,” Act IV. Sc. 3.

Enter BRUTUS and CASSIUS.

  CASSIUS.—That you have wronged me doth appear in this:
You have condemned and noted Lucius Pella
For taking bribes here of the Sardians;
Wherein my letter, praying on his side,
Because I knew the man, was slighted off.        5
  BRUTUS.—You wronged yourself to write in such a case.
  CASSIUS.—In such a time as this it is not meet
That every nice offence should bear his comment.
  BRUTUS.—Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemned to have an itching palm,        10
To sell and mart your offices for gold
To undeservers.
  CASSIUS.—        I an itching palm?
You know that you are Brutus that speaks this,
Or, by the gods, this speech were else your last.
  BRUTUS.—The name of Cassius honors this corruption,        15
And chastisement doth therefore hide his head.
  CASSIUS.—Chastisement!
  BRUTUS.—Remember March, the ides of March remember!
Did not great Julius bleed for justice sake?
What villain touched his body, that did stab,        20
And not for justice? What! shall one of us,
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers,—shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
And sell the mighty space of our large honors        25
For so much trash as may be graspèd thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.
  CASSIUS.—            Brutus, bay not me;
I ’ll not endure it: you forget yourself,
To hedge me in. I am a soldier, I,        30
Older in practice, abler than yourself
To make conditions.
  BRUTUS.—        Go to; you are not, Cassius.
  CASSIUS.—I am.
  BRUTUS.—I say you are not.
  CASSIUS.—Urge me no more, I shall forget myself;        35
Have mind upon your health, tempt me no further.
  BRUTUS.—Away, slight man!
  CASSIUS.—Is ’t possible?
  BRUTUS.—            Hear me, for I will speak.
Must I give way and room to your rash choler?
Shall I be frighted when a madman stares?        40
  CASSIUS.—O ye gods, ye gods! Must I endure all this?
  BRUTUS.—All this? Ay, more. Fret till your proud heart break;
Go show your slaves how choleric you are,
And make your bondmen tremble. Must I budge?
Must I observe you? Must I stand and crouch        45
Under your testy humor? By the gods,
You shall digest the venom of your spleen,
Though it do split you; for from this day forth
I ’ll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter,
When you are waspish.
  CASSIUS.—            Is it come to this?
        50
  BRUTUS.—You say you are a better soldier:
Let it appear so; make your vaunting true,
And it shall please me well. For mine own part,
I shall be glad to learn of noble men.
  CASSIUS.—You wrong me every way, you wrong me, Brutus;        55
I said an elder soldier, not a better:
Did I say better?
  BRUTUS.—            If you did, I care not.
  CASSIUS.—When Cæsar lived he durst not thus have moved me.
  BRUTUS.—Peace, peace! you durst not so have tempted him.
  CASSIUS.—I durst not?        60
  BRUTUS.—No.
  CASSIUS.—What? durst not tempt him?
  BRUTUS.—            For your life you durst not.
  CASSIUS.—Do not presume too much upon my love;
I may do that I shall be sorry for.
  BRUTUS.—You have done that you should be sorry for.        65
There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats;
For I am armed so strong in honesty
That they pass by me as the idle wind
Which I respect not. I did send to you
For certain sums of gold, which you denied me;—        70
For I can raise no money by vile means:
By heaven, I had rather coin my heart,
And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection.—I did send        75
To you for gold to pay my legions,
Which you denied me. Was that done like Cassius?
Should I have answered Caius Cassius so?
When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous,
To lock such rascal counters from his friends,        80
Be ready, gods, with all your thunderbolts,
Dash him to pieces!
  CASSIUS.—                I denied you not.
  BRUTUS.—You did.
  CASSIUS.—        I did not; he was but a fool
That brought my answer back.—Brutus hath rived my heart;
A friend should bear a friend’s infirmities,        85
But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.
  BRUTUS.—I do not, till you practise them on me.
  CASSIUS.—You love me not.
  BRUTUS.—            I do not like your faults.
  CASSIUS.—A friendly eye could never see such faults.
  BRUTUS.—A flatterer’s would not, though they do appear        90
As huge as high Olympus.
  CASSIUS.—Come, Antony, and young Octavius, come,
Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius!
For Cassius is aweary of the world;
Hated by one he loves, braved by his brother,        95
Checked like a bondman; all his faults observed,
Set in a note-book, learned and conned by rote,
To cast into my teeth. O, I could weep
My spirit from mine eyes!—There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart        100
Dearer than Plutus’ mine, richer than gold:
If that thou beest a Roman, take it forth.
I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart:
Strike, as thou didst at Cæsar; for I know,
When thou didst hate him worst, thou lov’dst him better        105
Than ever thou lov’dst Cassius.
  BRUTUS.—                Sheathe your dagger:
Be angry when you will, it shall have scope;
Do what you will, dishonor shall be humor.
O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
That carries anger as the flint bears fire,        110
Who, much enforcèd, shows a hasty spark
And straight is cold again.
  CASSIUS.—                Hath Cassius lived
To be but mirth and laughter to his Brutus,
When grief and blood ill-tempered vexeth him?
  BRUTUS.—When I spoke that I was ill-tempered too.        115
  CASSIUS.—Do you confess so much? Give me your hand.
  BRUTUS.—And my heart too.
  CASSIUS.—            O Brutus!—
  BRUTUS.—                    What ’s the matter?
  CASSIUS.—Have not you love enough to bear with me,
When that rash humor which my mother gave me
Makes me forgetful?
  BRUTUS.—        Yes, Cassius; and from henceforth,
        120
When you are over-earnest with your Brutus,
He ’ll think your mother chides, and leave you so.
 
 
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