« AnteriorContinua »
What our contempts do often hurl from us,
The Mutability of the People.
Our flippery people
(Whose love is never link'd to the deserver,
SCENE III. Cleopatra's contemptuous Raillery.
Now, pray you, feek no colour for your going, But bid farewell, and go: when you sued staying,
(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,
Then was the time for words: no going then :
Cleopatra's anxious Tenderness.
Ant. I'll leave you, lady.
Cleo. Courteous lord, one word.
Cleopatra's Wishes for Antony on parting.
Your honour calls you hence ;
SCENE IV. Antony's Vices and Virtues.
Lep. I muft (10) not think
They've evils enough to darken all his goodness;
(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
His faults in him fcem, as the spots of heav'n,
Than what he chooses.
Caf. You are too indulgent. Let us grant, it is
Amifs to tumble on the bed of Ptolomy,
To give a kingdom for a mirth, to fit
To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet
(As his compofure must be rare indeed,
Whom these things cannot blemish) yet muft Antony
Full furfeits, and the drynefs of his bones,
Call on him for 't; but to confound fuch time,
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,
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
Pawn their experience to their prefent pleasure,
Leave thy lafcivious waffals. When thou once
The rougheit berry on the rudeft hedge,
Yea, like the ftag, when fnow the pafture fheets,
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?
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,
O happy horfe to bear the weight of Antony!
Do bravely, horse, for wot'ft thou, whom thou mov'st?
I marvel my boy comes not back again;
(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 ?
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