« PreviousContinue »
Or murmuring, “ where's my ferpent of old Nile ?!
(For so he calls me ;) now I feed myself
With most delicious poison ; think on me
That am with Phæbus' amorous pinches black,
And wrinkled deep in time? Bald-fronted Cæfar,
When thou wait here above the ground, I was
A morsel for a monarch ; and great Pompey
Would stand and make his eyes grow in my brow ;
There would he anchor his aspect, and die
With looking on his life.
Mefsengers from Lovers, grateful.
How much unlike art thou Mark Antony !
Yet coming from him, that great med'cine hath
With his tinct gilded thee. (16)
Antony's made an alteration in a following line, which I have admitted into the text : it is commonly read,
Broad-fronted Cæfar “ Is there,” says he, “ the least ground from medals, ftatues, or history, for such a description of him? No; but the
very reverse. Look on his medals, and particularly the fine bronze at Dr. Mead's, and you'll find that he has a remarkably marp forebeat. But there is a peculiarity in Cæsar's forehead, mentioned by all his historians, and confirmed by medals and itatues. He was bald, and boasted that he would cover his temiples with laurels instead of hair ; and for that purpose, after he was dictator, conftantly wore his laurel crown. I read, therefore,
Bald-fronted Cæfar. It is perfectly in character for Cleopatra to mention a blemish in Cæfar; for she a little below shews a contempt for his memory, in comparison of her Antony." W. See Beaumont and Fletcher's works, preface, p. 66.
(16) With his tinet gilded thee.] Alluding to the philofophers stone, which by its touch converts base metal into gold: the alchymists call the matter, whatever it be, by whieh they perform transinutation, a medicine. J.
Antony's Love and Disposition.
Ale. Good friend, quoth he,
Say, " the firm Roman to great Egypt sends
This treasure of an oifter : at whole foot,
To mend the petty present, I will piece
Her opulent throne with kingdoms : all the east
Say thou, shall call her mistress.” So he nodded,
And soberly did mount an arm-gaunt (17) steed,
Who neigh'd so high, that what I would have spoke,
Was beastly dumb'd by him.
Cle. What, was he fad, or merry ?
Ale. Like to the time o' the year, between the
Of hot and cold; he was nor sad nor merry,
Cle. O well-divided dispofition !--Note him,
Note him, good Charmian, 'tis the man ; but note
He was not fad; for he would shine on those
That make their looks by his: he was not merry ;
Which seem'd to tell them, his remembrance lay
In Egypt with his joy : but between both :
O heavenly mingle ! -Be'st thou sad, or merry,
The violence of either thee becomes ;
So does it no man else.
The Vanity of human Wijes.
Pom. If the great gods be just, they Mall aslift
The deeds of justeft men.
Men. Know, worthy Pompey,
That what they do delay they not deny.
(17) Arm-gaunt.] i. e. fays W. a steed worn lean and thin by mach service in war. Harmer reads arm-girt feed.
Pom. Whilst we are suitors to their throne, de
cays, (18) The thing we fue for.
Men. We, (19) ignorant of ourselves,
Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers
Deny us for our good : so find we profit
By losing of our prayers.
(18) Decays.] i. e. while we are praying, the thing for which we pray, is losing.its value. J. W. reads delays, the thing we sue for.
(19) We, &c.] Theobald has well observed, that if this be not an imitation of the following incomparable lines of Juvenal, they breathe so much of the fame spirit and energy, as if the foul of the Roman fatyrift had been transfus’d into our poet. In the beginning of the satyr (the icth] the poet observes;
Look round the habitable world, how few
Know their own good, or knowing it, pursue !
How void of reason are our hopes and fears!
What in the conduct of our life appears
So well design'd, so luckily begun,
But, when we've got our with, we wish undone !
Whole houses of their whole desires poffeft,
Are often ruin'd at their own request.
In wars and peace, things hurtful we require,
When made obnoxious to our own desire.
With laurels some have fatally been crown'd;
Some who the depths of eloquence have found,
In that unnavigable stream were drown'd, &c.
And towards the end, he advises thus :
Intrust thy fortune to the powers above,
Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant
What their unerring wisdom sees thee want :
In goodness as in greatness they excel ;
Ah, that we lov'd ourselves but half so well !
We blindly, by our headstrong passions led,
Are hot for action and desire to wed ;
Then with for heirs : but to the gods alone
Our future offspring, and our wives are known,
Th'audacious Itrumpet, and ungracious fon.
Pompey's Wish for Antony's Captivity in Pleafure.
Pomp. I know they are in Rome together,
Looking for Antony: but all the charms of love,
Salt Cleopatra, soften thy wan lip; (20)
Let witchcraft join with beauty, lult with both !
Tie the libertine in a field of fealts,
Keep his brain fuming ; Epicurean cooks,
Sharpen with cloyless fauce his appetite ;
That sleep and feeding may prorogue his honour,
Even till a Lethe'd dulness.
Menas, I did not think,
This amorous surfeiter would have don'd his helm,
For such a petty war: his soldiership
Is twice the other twain : but let us rear
The higher our opinion, that our stirring
Can from the lap of Egypt's widow pluck
The ne'er laft-weary'd Antony.
SCENE II. Antony's ingenuous Acknowledgment.
Ant. The article of my oath-
Cæf. To lend me arms, and aid, when I requir'd
The which you both deny'd.
Ant. Neglected, rather ;
And then, when poison'd hours had bound me up
From mine own knowledge. As nearly as I may,
I'll play the penitent to you : but mine honesty
Shall not make poor my greatness, nor my power
Work, without it : Truth is, that Fulvia,
To have me out of Egypt, made wars here ;
(20) Wan lip.] This is evidently a term of contempt in the speaker, as he calls her. Salt Cleopatra. It may be remarked, however, that the lips of Africans and Asiatis are paler than those of European nations. See St.
144 The Beauties of SHAKESPEAR.
For which myself, the ignorant motive, do
So far ask pardon, as befits mine honour
To stoop in such a case.
Lep." "Tis nobly spoken.
Description of Cleopatra's failing down the Cydnus.
The barge (21) she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burnt on the water ; the poop was beaten gold,
Purple the fails, and so perfumed, that
The winds were love-lick with them : th' oars were
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
(21) The barge, &c.] As Dryden plainly entered the
lists with S. in describing this magnificent appearance of
Cleopatra, it is but just the descriptions Phould appear to-
gether, that the reader may decide the victory.
ality, perhaps, may incline me to think S’s much the great.
eft; though I am pleased with hearing it from Antony's
own mouth, in Dryden's play.
Her galley down the silver Cydnus row'd,
The tackling filk, the streamers wav'd with gold,
The gentle winds were lodg’d in purple fails,
Her nymphs like Nereids round her couch were placid,
Where the, another sea-born Venus lay.
She lay, and lent her cheek upon her hand,
And cast a look so languishingly sweet,
As if secure of all beholders hearts,
Neglecting the cou'd take 'em. Boys, like Cupids,
Stood fanning with their painted wings the winds
That play'd about her face; but if the smild,
A darting glory seem'd to blaze abroad,
That mens desiring eyes were never weary'd,
But hung upon the object. To soft Alutes
The filver oars kept time; and while they play'd,
The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight,
And' both to thought : 'twas heav'n" (or somewhat
For the so charm'd all hearts, that gazing crowds
Stood panting on the fore, and wanted breath
To give their welcome Voice.