Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Cæsar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath: Husband, I come:
Now to that name my courage prove my title !
I am fire, and air; my other elements
I give to baser life?:-So,-have you done ?
Come then, and take the last warmth of my lips.
Farewell, kind Charmian ;-Iras, long farewell.

[Kisses them. Iras falls and dies.
Have I the aspick in my lips' ? Dost fall ? ?
If thou and nature can so gently part,
The stroke of death is as a lover's pincho,
Which hurts, and is desir'd. Dost thou lie still ?
If thus thou vanishest, thou tell'st the world
It is not worth leave-taking.
CHAR. Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain; that I

may say, The gods themselves do weep!

A preceding passage precisely ascertains the meaning of the word :

to proclaim it civilly, were like
“ A halter'd neck, which does the hangman thank
“ For being yare about him.”

MALONE. 9 I am Fire, and air; my other elements

I give to baser life.] So, in King Henry V.: " He is pure air and fire ; and the dull elements of earth and water never ap

“ Do not our lives (says Sir Andrew Aguecheek,) consist of the four elements ? ” Malone.

Homer, Iliad vii. 99, speaks as contemptuously of the grosser elements we spring from :

'Αλλ υμείς μεν πάντες ύδωρ και γαία γενoισθε. STEEVENS. 1 Have I the aspick in my lips ?] Are my lips poison'd by the aspick, that my kiss has destroyed thee? MALONE.

-Dost fall ?] Iras must be supposed to have applied an asp to her arm while her mistress was settling her dress, or I know not why she should fall so soon. STEEVENS.

a lover's PINCH] So before, p. 209 :
“ That am with Phæbus' amorous pinches black."

Steevens.

pear in him."

2

3

CLEO.

This proves me base: If she first meet the curled Antony, He'll make demand of her* ; and spend that kiss, Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou mortal

wretch,

[To the Asp, which she applies to her Breast.
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie : poor venomous fool,
Be angry, and despatch. O, could'st thou speak!
That I might hear thee call great Cæsar, ass
Unpolicied !

CHAR. O eastern star !
CLEO.

Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep??

4 He'll make demand of her ;] He will enquire of her concerning me, and kiss her for giving him intelligence. Johnson. Come, mortal wretch,] Old copies, unmetrically: Come, thou mortal wretch

STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

ass

UNPOLICIED!] i. e. an ass without more policy than to leave the means of death within my reach, and thereby deprive his triumph of its noblest decoration. Steevens.

That sucks the nurse asleep?] Before the publication of this piece, The Tragedy of Cleopatra, by Daniel, 1594, had made its appearance ; but Dryden is more indebted to it than Shakspeare. Daniel has the following address to the asp:

“ Better than death death's office thou dischargest,

“ That with one gentle touch can free our breath ;
“ And in a pleasing sleep our soul enlargest,

“ Making ourselves not privy to our death.
“ Therefore come thou, of wonders wonder chief,

“ That open canst with such an easy key
“ The door of life; come gentle, cunning thief,
“ That from ourselves so steal'st ourselves away.”

See Warton's Pope, vol. iv. 219, v. 73. Dryden says on the same occasion :

Welcome, thou kind deceiver !
“ Thou best of thieves ; who with an easy key
Dost open life, and, unperceiv'd by us,

Even steal us from ourselves : Discharging so

[ocr errors]

Char,

O, break! O, break ! Cleo. As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,O Antony !-Nay, I will take thee too :

[ Applying another Asp to her Arm. What should I stay- [Falls on a Bed, and dies. CHAR. In this wild world ?-So, fare thee

well.
Now boast thee, death! in thy possession lies
A lass unparallel’d.-Downy windows, close”;
And golden Phoebus never be beheld
Of eyes again so royal! Your crown's awry';
I'll mend it, and then play?.

[ocr errors]

9

“ Death's dreadful office better than himself,

Touching our limbs so gently into slumber,
“ That death stands by, deceiv'd by his own image,

“ And thinks himself but sleep.” STEEVENS. 8 In this wild world?] Thus the old copy. I

suppose

she means by this wild world, this world which by the death of Antony is become a desert to her. A wild is a desert. Our author, however, might have written vild (i.e. vile according to ancient spelling), for worthless. STEEVENS.

Downy windows, close ;] So, in Venus and Adonis :

“ Her two blue windows faintly she upheaveth.” Malone. Charmian, in saying this, must be conceived to close Cleopatra's eyes; one of the first ceremonies performed toward a dead body. RITSON.

Your crown's AWRY;] This is well amended by the editors. The old editions had

"Your crown's away.Johnson. So, in Daniel's Tragedy of Cleopatra, 1594 :

And senseless, in her sinking down, she wryes
“ The diadem which on her head she wore ;
“ Which Charmian (poor weak feeble maid) espyes,
“ And hastes to right it as it was before ;
“ For Eras now was dead."

STEEVENS. The correction was made by Mr. Pope. The author has here as usual followed the old translation of Plutarch ; - They found Cleopatra starke dead layed upon a bed of gold, attired and arrayed in her royal robes, and one of her two women, which was called Iras, dead at her feete; and her other woman called Charmian half dead, and trembling, trimming the diadem which Cleopatra wore upon her head." MALONE.

2 - and then PLAY.] i. e. play her part in this tragick scenę

Enter the Guard, rushing in.
1 Guard. Where is the queen ?
CHAR.

Speak softly, wake her not. 51 GUARD. Cæsar hath sent: CHAR.

Too slow a messenger.

[Applies the Asp. O, come; apace, despatch : I partly feel thee. 1 GUARD. Approach, ho! Ali's not well: Cæsar's

beguild. 2 GUARD. There's Dolabella sent from Cæsar ;

call him. 1 GUARD. What work is here?- Charmian, is

this well done ? CHAR. It is well done, and fitting for a princess Descended of so many royal kings 8. Ah, soldier!

[Dies. Enter DOLABELLA. Dol. How goes it here? 2 GUARD.

All dead. Dol.

Cæsar, thy thoughts Touch their effects in this : Thyself art coming To see perform’d the dreaded act, which thou So sought'st to hinder. Within. A way there, a way for Cæsar!

Enter CÆSAR, and Attendants. Dol. O, sir, you are too sure an augurer ; That you did fear, is done. by destroying herself: or she may mean, that having performed her last office for her mistress, she will accept the permission given her in p. 417, to " play till doomsday.” Steevens.

3 Descended of so many royal kings.] Almost these very words are found in Sir T. North's translation of Plutarch ; and in Daniel's play on the same subject. The former book is not uncommon, and therefore it would be impertinent to croud the page

with every circumstance which Shakspeare has borrowed from the same original.

STEEVENS,

Cæs.

Bravest at the last : She levell’d at our purposes, and, being royal, Took her own way.-The manner of their deaths ? I do not see them bleed. Dol,

Who was last with them? 1 GUARD. A simple countryman, that brought

her figs; This was his basket. CÆs.

Poison'd then. 1 GUARD.

O Cæsar,
This Charmian lived but now; she stood, and spake:
I found her trimming up the diadem
On her dead mistress ; tremblingly she stood,
And on the sudden dropp’d.
Cæs.

O noble weakness
If they had swallow'd poison, 'twould appear
By external swelling : but she looks like sleep,
As she would catch another Antony
In her strong toil of grace.
Dor.

Here, on her breast, There is a vent of blood, and something blown : The like is on her arm.

1 GUARD. This is an aspick's trail: and these fig

leaves

Have slime upon them, such as the aspick leaves Upon the caves of Nile.

4 — something blown :) The flesh is somewhat puffed or swoln. Johnson.

So, in the ancient metrical romance of Syr Bevys of Hampton, bl. 1. no date :

“ That with venim upon him throwen,

“ The knight lay then to-blowen.Again, in the romance of Syr Isenbras, bl. 1. no date :

“ With adders all your bestes ben slaine,

“ With venyme are they blowe.Again, in Ben Jonson's Magnetick Lady :

“What is blown, puft? speak English.-
“ Tainted an' please you, some do call it,
- She swells and so swells,&c. STEEVENS.

« AnteriorContinua »