Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

What our contempts do often hurl from us,
We wish it ours again; the prefent pleasure, (5)
By revolution lowering, does become
The oppofite of itfelf: fhe's good, being gone,
The hand could pluck (6) her back, that shov'd her on.

The Mutability of the People.

Our flippery people

(Whose love is never link'd to the deserver,
Till his deferts are paft) begin to throw
Pompey the Great, and all his dignities,
Upon his fon; who, high in name and power,
Higher than both in blood and life, ftands up
For (7) the main foldier.

SCENE III. Cleopatra's contemptuous Raillery.

Now, pray you, feek no colour for your going, But bid farewell, and go: when you sued staying,

Then

(5) The prefent pleasure, &c.] The allufion is to the fun's diurnal courfe: which, rifing in the east, and by revolution lowering, or setting in the weft, becomes the opposite of itself. W.

(6) The band could pluck.] The verb could has a peculiar fignification in this place. It does not denote power, but inclination. The fenfe is, The band which drove ber off, wou'd now willingly pluck her back again. Revifal. (7) For, &c.] This topic is finely touched again in the fourth scene: where Casar says,

I fhould have known no lefs:

It hath been taught us from the primal state,
That he, which is, was wifh'd, until he were ;
And the ebb'd man, ne'er lov'd, till ne'er worth love,
Comes dear'd, by being lack'd. This common body,
Like to a vagabond flag upon the stream,
Goes to, and back, lackying the varying tide,
To rot itfelf with motion.

Then was the time for words: no going then :
Eternity was in our lips, and eyes;
Blifs on our brows' bent; none our parts fo poor,
But was a race of heaven (8) they are so ftill,
Or thou, the greatest foldier of the world,
Art turn'd the greatest lyar.

Cleopatra's anxious Tenderness.

Ant. I'll leave you, lady.

Cleo. Courteous lord, one word.
Sir, you and I must part,-but that's not it:
Sir, you and I have lov'd,-but there's not it,-
That you know well: fomething it is I would :—
O, my oblivion (9) is a very Antony,
And I am all-forgotten!

Cleopatra's Wishes for Antony on parting.

Your honour calls you hence ;
Therefore be deaf to my unpity'd folly,
And all the gods go with you! Upon your sword
Sit laurel'd victory! and smooth fuccefs
Be itrew'd before your feet.

SCENE IV. Antony's Vices and Virtues.

9

Lep. I muft (10) not think

They've evils enough to darken all his goodness;

His

(8) A race of heaven.] i. e. had a smack or flavour of heaven. The race of the wine is the tafte of the foil. W. and J.

(9) My oblivion, &c.] The plain meaning is, My forgetfulness makes me forget myself. But the expreffes it, by calling forgetfulness Antony, because forgetfulness had forgot her, as Antony had done. W. There is great beauty and force in the expreffion.

(10) I muft, &c.] The judicious reader will be much pleafed to find the vices and virtues of Antony fo justly fet

4

forth,

[ocr errors]

His faults in him fcem, as the spots of heav'n,
More fiery by night's blacknefs; hereditary,
Rather than purchas'd; (11) what he cannot change,

Than what he chooses.

Caf. You are too indulgent. Let us grant, it is

not

Amifs to tumble on the bed of Ptolomy,

To give a kingdom for a mirth, to fit
And keep the turn of tipling with a slave ;

To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet
With knaves that smell of fweat; fay this becomes
him;

(As his compofure must be rare indeed,

Whom these things cannot blemish) yet muft Antony
No way excufe his foils, when we do bear
So great weight in his lightness. (12) If he fill'd
His vacancy with his voluptuoufnefs;

Full furfeits, and the drynefs of his bones,

Call on him for 't; but to confound fuch time,
That drums him from his fport, and fpeaks as loud
As his own ftate and ours ;~'tis to be chid:
As we rate boys, who being mature (13) in know-
ledge,

Pawn

forth, fo agreeable to all the accounts we have of his cha racter in history: doubtless no fmall knowledge in antiquity was neceffary for fo exact a conformity to the characters of the ancients. It is surprising, that the Oxford editor should read the third line in the text,

As the spots of ermine,
Or fires by night's blackness;

when the image is fo apt and beautiful as it now ftands, and almost incapable of being misunderstood.

(11) Purchas'd.] i. e. Procured by his own fault or endeavour. J.

(12) Weight in his lightness.] i. e. His trifling levity throws fo much burden upon us. J.

(13) Being mature.] The Oxford editor reads, who immature in knowledge, to which W. agrees, and admits the

alteration.

Pawn their experience to their prefent pleasure,
And fo rebel to judgment.

Antony,

Leave thy lafcivious waffals. When thou once
Wer't beaten from Mutina, where thou flew'st
Hirtius and Panfa, confuls; at thy heel
Did famine follow, whom thou fought'ft against,
(Though daintily brought up) with patience more
Than favages could fuffer. Thou didft drink
The ftale of horfes, and the gilded puddle
Which beafts would cough at. Thy palate then did
deign

The rougheit berry on the rudeft hedge,

Yea, like the ftag, when fnow the pafture fheets,
The barks of trees thou browsed'ft. On the Aips,
Itis rpted, thou didst eat ftrange fiefh,
Which fome did die to look on; and all this,
(It wounds thine honour that I fpeak it now,)
Was borne fo like a foldier, that thy cheek
So much as lank'd not.

SCENE V. Cleopatra on the Absence of Antony.

Oh, (14) Charmian !

Where think'ft thou he is now? ftands he? or fits he? Or does he walk ? or is he on his horfe?

O happy

alteration. I.cannot be fatisfied with the criticism, but apprehend there is much more propriety in the words as they now ftand, than as the Oxford editor would read them. For, if the boys were immature in knowledge [or, had not any knowledge] they could not pawn their experience to their prefent pleasure, nor rebel to judgment: whereas, if they were mature in knowledge, all that follows is just. By boys mature in knowledge lays 7, are meant boys old enough to know their duty.

(14) Oh, &c.] Nothing can be more natural than this folicitude of Cleopatra, fo peculiar to lovers: in Philafter, Act 3. the lady lays,

I marvel

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

O happy horfe to bear the weight of Antony!

Do bravely, horse, for wot'ft thou, whom thou mov'st?
The demy Atlas of this earth, the arm
And burgonet (15) of man. He's fpeaking now,

Or

I marvel my boy comes not back again;
But that I know my love will question him,
Over and over, how I flept, wak'd, talk'd:
How I remember'd him, when his dear name
Was last spoke, and how; when I figh'd, wept, fung,
And ten thousand such: I should be angry at his stay.

(15) Burgonet.] i. e. A fteel cap, worn for the defence of the head in battle. The ingenious Mr. Seward remarks, on the next lines,-" That the editors who distinguish Antony's speech either by italics or commas, make him only fay, Where's my ferpent of old Nile? The reft is Cleopatra's own. But fure it is a strange compliment only to call her a ferpent of Nile. And why then does the mention it as a wonder, that he fhould fay fuch rapturous things of her in her decline of life? No; Antony's speech fhould be continued, as the metaphor is,

Where's my ferpent of old Nile ?
-Now I feed myself

With most delicious poifon.

Both parts belong to him, and then fhe goes on;" Think," fays the," that he utters fuch raptures as these of me, though wrinkled deep in time." But, in my opinion, fhe feems not to imagine any fuch raptures all the dwells upon is, her Antony's thinking and speaking of her, by that fond expreffion; which, however uncouth a compliment it may appear to us, we are to fuppofe, was a common one between them, and ufed by Antony in the midst of their freedom and rapture : "He's fpeaking now," fays fhe, “ of me, or murmuring out his ufual fond appellation of me, wishing to know, where his ferpent of cld Nile is-(for fo [apolologizing for the oddnefs of it] my Antony calls me :)" recollecting herself, fhe goes on: "Now, indeed, I do feed myself with most delicious poifon : think of me, that am thus fwarthy and thus wrinkled, to be fo kindly remembered by this arm and burgonet of man.". Seward has

made

« AnteriorContinua »