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What our contempts do often hurl from us,
The Mutability of the People.
Our slippery people
his son ; who, high in name and power,
Scene III. Cleopatra's contemptuous Raillery,
Now, pray you, seek no colour for your going,
(5) The present pleasure, &c.] The allusion is to the sun's diurnal course: which, rising in the east, and by revolution lowering, or setting in the west, becomes the opposite of itself. W.
(6) The band could pluck.] The verb could has a peculiar signification in this place. It does not denote power, but inclination. The sense is, The band which drove ber off, wou'd now willingly pluck ber back again. Revisal.
(7) For, &c.} This topic is finely touched again in the fourth scene : where Casar says,
I should have known no less :
Then was the time for words: no going then :
Cleopatra's anxious Tenderness.
Cleo. Courteous lord, one word.
and I have lov’d, but there's not it,That
you know well : something it is I would :-
(8) A race of beaven.) i. e. had a smack or flavour of heaven. The race of the wine is the taste of the soil. W. and J.
(9) My oblivion, &c.] The plain meaning is, My forgetfulness makes me forget myself. But the expresses it, by calling forgetfulness Antony, because forgetfulness had forgot her, as Antony had done. W. There is great beauty and force in the expression.
(10) I muf, &c.] The judicious reader will be much pleased to
the vices and virtues of Antony fo juftly set 4
His faults in him scem, as the spots of heav'n,
Caf. You are too indulgent. Let us grant, it is
forth, fo agreeable to all the accounts we have of his cha. racter in history: doubtless no small knowledge in antiquity was necessary 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 so 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. y.
(12) Weight in bis ligbtness.] i. e. His trifling levity throws fo much burden upon us. F.
(13) Being mature.] The Oxford editor reads, who im. mature in knowledge, to which W. agrees, and admits the
Pawn their experience to their present pleasure,
SCENE V. Cleopatra on tbe Absence of Antony.
Oh,(14) Charmian! Where think'st thou he is now? stands he? or fits he? Or does he walk? or is he on his horse?
O happy alteration. I.cannot be fatisfied with the criticism, but apa prehend there is much more propriety in the words as they now stand, 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 present plealure, nor rebel to judgment : whereas, if they were mature in knowledge, all that follows is just. By boys mature in knowledge says J, are meant boys old enough to know their duty.
(14) Ob, &c.] Nothing can be more natural than this folicitude of Cleopatra, fo peculiar to lovers: in Philafter, Act 3. the lady Tays,
O happy horse to bear the weight of Antony !
I marvel my boy comes not back again;
And ten thousand luch: Í 1hould be angry at his stay. (15) Burgonet.] i. e. A steel 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 say, "Where's my jerpent of old Nile? The rest is Cleopatra's own. But sure it is a strange compliment only to call her a serpent of Nile. And why then does she mention it as a wonder, that he thould say such rapturous things of her in her decline of life? No; Antony's speech should be continued, as the metaphor is,
Where's my ferpent of old Nile?
Now I feed myself
With most delicious poison. Both parts belong to him, and then she goes on ;“ Think," says he," that he utters such raptures as these of me, though wrinkled deep in time." But, in my opinion, she seems not to imagine any such raptures : all the dwells upon is, her Antony's thinking and speaking of her, by that fond expression ; which, however uncouth a compliment it may appear to us, we are to suppose, was a common one between them, and used by Antony in the midst of their freedom and rapture : “ He's speaking now," says fhe, “ of me, or murmuring out his usual fond appellation of me, wishing to know, where his serpent of old Nile is--(for fo [apolologizing for the oddness of it] my Antony calls me :)” recollecting herself, she goes on : « Now, indeed, I do feed myself with most delicious poison : think of me, that am thus swarthy and thus wrinkled, to be so kindly remembered by this arm and burgonet of man.". Seward has