« PreviousContinue »
ture, at least for the superinduced and philosophic nature, that we are led to suppose was in Brutus ; and the same objection inight be made to what follows. The household are called up in too much alarm. It is Brutus's care for his servants, his bidding them take their rest, and what he says to the little lute-player, overcome with sleep, that render the scene so charming. . The divine scene also between him and Cassius, where he tells him that “Portia is dead,” has just preceded it.
Brutus. Lucius, my gown. [Exit Lucius.] Farewell, good Messala;
Cassius. O, my dear brother!
Bru. Every thing is well.
Farewell, every one.
[Excunt Cas., Tit., and Mes. Re-enter Lucius with the gown. Give me the gown. Where is thy instrument?
Lucius. Here in the tent.
What, thou speak'st drowsily?
Enter Varro and CLAUDIUS.
Bru. I pray you, sirs, lie in my tent and sleep;
Var. So please you, we will stand, and watch your pleasure.
[Servants lie down.
It may be, I shall otherwise think me.
Luc. I was sure, your lordship did not give it me.
Bru. Bear with me, good boy, I am much forgetful.
Luc. Ay, my lord, an it please you.
It does, my boy.
Luc. It is my duty, sir.
Bru. I should not urge thy duty past thy might; I know young bloods look for a time of rest.
Luc. I have slept, my lord, already.
Bru. It is well done; and thou shalt sleep again ;
Enter the Ghost of CÆSAR.
(Music and a song.
(He sits down.
I think it is the weakness of mine eyes,
Ghost. Thy evil spirit, Brutus.
Why com’st thou?
Ay, at Philippi.
Boy! Lucius ! Varro! Claudius ! sirs awake ! —
Luc. The strings, my lord, are false.
Bru. He thinks, he is still at his instrument. —
Luc. My lord ?
Bru. Sleep again, Lucius. — Sirrah, Claudius !
Var. My lord.
Ay: saw you any thing?
Nor I, my lord.
Var. and Clau. It shall be done, my lord.
The Roman genius appears to have been a very material sort of personage compared with the Greek demon, and altogether addicted to earth. We know not where it is found that he was first called gerulus, or a carrier on of affairs : perhaps in Varro; but whether as gerulus, or as genius (the spirit of things generated), the Romans made him after their own likeness, and gave him as little to do with the stars as possible. The Romans had not the fancy of the Greeks, and cared little for their ethereal pleasures. Accordingly, their attendant spirit was either fighting and conquering (on which occasion he took the wings of victory, as you may see in the imperial sculptures), or he was dining and enjoying himself: sitting under his plane-tree and drinking with his mistress. To gratify their appetites, was called “ indulging the genius;" not to gratify them, was “defrauding” him. They seem to have forgotten that he had any thing to do with restraint. Ovid, the most poetical of their poets, in all his uses of the words genius or genii, never hints at the possibility of their having any meaning beyond something local and comfortable. There is the genius of the city, and the genius of one's father. The Sabine women were "a genial prey." Crowns of flowers are genial; a certain kind of musical instrument is particularly genial, and agrees with dulcibus jocis, – that is to say, with double meanings; Bacchus is the planter of the genial vine (genial indeed was a name of Bacchus); a popular holiday, pleasantly described in the Fasti, where every one is eating and drinking by the side of his lass, is a genial feast.*
Hence the acceptation of the word among ourselves, though we are fain to give it more grace and sentiment. The "genial bed” of Milton is not exactly Ovidian; though, by the way, the good-natured libertine was the favorite Latin poet of our great puritan.
We hear little of the bad genius among the Romans. They seem to have agreed to treat him as bad geniuses ought to be, and drop his acquaintance. But he was black, like his brother in Greece. Voltaire has a pleasant story of the black and white genius. Valerius Maximus, a servile writer, who had the luck to survive his betters and become a classic, tells a story (probably to please the men in power whom he deified) which appears to have been confounded with that of Brutus. “We are told by Valerius Maximus,” says Mr. Tooke, “ that when Cassius fled
*"Fastorum,” lib. iii. v. 523. It is the description of a modern Florentine holiday
to Athens, after Anthony was beaten at Actium, there appeared to him a man of long stature, of a black swarthy complexion, with large hair, and a nasty beard. Cassius asked him who he was ; and the apparition answered, “I am your evil genius.'" *
Spenser has placed an evil genius at the gate of his false bower of bliss, and old genius, or the fatherly principle of life and care, at the door of the great nursery-gardens of the universe.
Old genius the porter of them was ;
He letteth in, he letteth out to wend,
What follows and precedes this passage is a true piece of Platonical coloring, founded upon the old Greek allegories. These nursery grounds, sprouting with infants and with the germs of all things, would make a very happy place if it were not for Time, who with his “flaggy wings," goes playing the devil among the beds, to the great regret of Venus. It is an old story, and a true ; and the worst of it is, that Venus herself (though the poet does not here say so) joins with her enemies to assist him.
- Were it not that Time their troubler is,
* Tooke's “Pantheon,” part 4, chap. iii. sect. 4. The genius speaks Greek, which was better bred of him than having a beard.