« PreviousContinue »
SCENE III. Cleopatra's Dream and Defcription
Dol. If it might please ye
Cleo. His face was as the heav'ns, and therein stuck A fun and moon, which kept their course, and lighted The little O o'th'earth.
Dol. Most sovereign creature
Cleo. His legs bestrid the ocean, his rear'd arm
rally resolve it into its first principles : thus, man is dust and alhes, and the food we eat, the dung, by which first our vegetable, and from thence our animal food is nourish'd. This fentiment has in Shakespear's Antony and Cleopatra, escaped the obfervation of two that deservedly bear the first names in criticism, Sir Thomas Hanmer and Mr. Warburton. Cleopatra finding the can Do longer riot in the pleasures of life, with the usual workings of a disappointed pride, pretends a disgust to them, and thus speaks in praise of suicide-And it is great, Śc. (as in the text.)
From the observation above, nothing can be clearer than this paisage : Both the beggar and Cæsar are fed ad nursed by the diing of the earth: and in this fenfe it always appeared to me before thc following demonstration of it occur'd. In the first scene of the fame play, Aritonio says,
Kingdoms are clay, our dungy earth alike
Feeds beasts as man. Though I am persuaded, with Mr. Seward, this is the true fenfe of the passage ; yet we must nicely observe the sense of peeps and palates, which are quite peculiar, and may be reckoned amongit the anomalies of. Shakespear. " Suicide, “ says he " “ Thackles accidents and boits up change, fleepso. [i.c, caules us to flexp] and siever palates,” [never more to palate, &c.]
Were dolphin-like; they shew'd his back above
SCENE V. Firm Resolution.
How poor an instrument
SCENE VI. Cleopatra's Speech on applying the Asp.
Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me.
Now no more
(33) I bear, &c.] It has been obferved, this possibly might have been shadowed out from Claudian;
Jam non ad culmina rerum
In Rufinum L.
Farewel, kind Charmian; Iras, long farewel.
[-Applying the App. Have I the afpic in my lips ? Do'st fall?" If thou and nature can so gently part, The stroke of death is as a lover's pinch, Which hurts, and is desir'd. Do'st thou lie still? If thus thou vanisheit, thou tell'ít the world It is not worth leave-taking.
[Ires dies. Char. Diffolve, thick cloud and rain, that I may fay, The gods themselves do weep.
Cleo. This proves me baseIf the first meet the curled Antony, He'll make demand of her, and spend that kiss Which is my heaven to have. Come, mortal wretch,
[To the Alp With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate (34) Of life at once untie. Oh, couldst thou speak, That I might hear thee call great Cafar ass, Unpoliced!
Char. Oh, eastern star!
Cleo. Peace, peace !
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 Afp. (35) What should I stay.
(34) Intrinhcate] i. e. Intricate, intangled, or tied in hard knots ; fo, in King Lear,
Like rats, oft bite the holy cords in twain,
Edwards. (35) What should I stay, &c.] Shakespear excels prodigiously in these breaks; so, Percy, in Henry IV. first part, just departing; says,
Char. In this wild world? fo, fare thee well;
-No, Percy, thou art dust,
(Dicta P.Hen. Worms; brave Percy, fare thee well, &c.
General Observation. THIS play (says Johnson) keeps curiosity always bufy, and the passions always interested. The continual hurry of the action, the variety of incidents, and the quick fuccession of one personage to another, call the mind forward without intermission from the first act to the last. But the power of delighting is derived principally from the frequent changes of the scene ; for, except The feminine arts, some of which are too low, which distinguish Cleopatra, no character is very strongly discriminated. who did not easily miss what he desired to find, has discovered that the language of Antony is, with great skill and learning, made pompous and superb, according to his real practice. But I think his diction not distinguishable from that of others : the most tumid speech in the play is that which Cæfar makes to Očlavia.
The events, of which the principal are described according to history, are produced without any art of connexion or care of disposition.
HAT (1) would you have, ye curs,
(1) What, &c.] Shakespear has many passages on the uncertainty of popular favour, and the fickleness of the vulgar: the reader will find one in the 2d part of Henry IV. v. 2. p. 17. where I have referred to this : Milton, in his 3d book of Paradisc Regained, has a passage remarkably similar to this. Satan says
These god-like virtues wherefore dost thou hide,
They praise and they admire they know not what,