« Pope Sixtus the Fifth | ‘Lost Articles’ | Patriotic Malevolence »

The Body of Cæsar

A SKILFUL orator sometimes employs persuasions more forcible than the figures or flowers of rhetoric can yield. Here is an instance—

Marc Antony, haranguing the Roman people after the death of Cæsar, who had just been assassinated by the Senate, held out to the observation of the people the robe of this great man, all bloody, and pierced through in two-and-twenty places. This made so great an impression on the minds of those who were present, that it appeared, not that Cæsar had been assassinated, but that the conspirators were then actually assassinating him.

Scudery has a fine verse on this subject—

C’est le sang de Cesar, Romains, qui parle a vous.
Ye Romans, mark! ’tis Cæsar’s blood that speaks.

The sentiments of Anthony, King of Navarre, father to Henry IV. of France, must have been similar, as appears by the following anecdote. The Duke of Guise had resolved to assassinate him in the presence of Francis the Second. Anthony of Navarre, says Voltaire, had a fearless heart. He was informed of the conspiracy; which did not, however, hinder him from going to the Chamber in which it was to have been effected. If they kill me (he told his confidential friend) take my bloody shirt, bring it to my son, and my wife: they will read in my blood what they shall do to revenge me.