« PreviousContinue »
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
Eno. Why, then, we kill all our women. We see how mortal an unkindness is to them; if they suffer our departure, death's the word.
ANT. I must be gone.
Eno. Under a compelling* occasion, let women die: it were pity to cast them away for nothing; though, between them and a great cause, they should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty times upon far poorer moment: I do think there is mettle in death, which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in dying.
ANT. She is cunning past man's thought.
Eno. Alack, sir, no; her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure
love. We cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs can report: this cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.
ANT. Would I had never seen her!
Eno. O, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of work; which not to have been blessed withal, would have discredited your travel.
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Eno. Why, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth ; comforting therein, that when old robes are worn out, there are members to make new. If there were no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the case to be lamented: this grief is crowned with consolation ; your old smock brings forth a new petticoat:-and, indeed, the tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow.
ANT. The business she hath broached in the state Cannot endure my absence.
Eno. And the business you have broached here cannot Le without yon; especially that of Cleopatra's, which wholly depends on your abode.
Ant. No more light answers. Let our officers
(*) Old text inserts, an. (+) Old text, love ; correctod by Pope.
- expedience-] Expedition.
The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
Eno. I shall do't.
SCENE III.—The same. Another Room in the same.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and ALEXAS.
I did not see him since.
What should I do, I do not?
CHAR. Tempt him not so too far: I wish, forbear ;c
I am sick and sullen.
CLEO. Help me away, dear Charmian, I shall fall :
• Which, like the courser's hair, &c.] An allusion to the vulgar superstition that a horse hair left in water or dung became a living serpent.
• To such whose place is under us, requires, &c.]*The lection of the second folio. In the first, we have,
" To such whose places under us require," &c. I Finl, forbear;] I commend forbearance.
Now, my dearest queen, -
What's the matter?
ANT. The gods best know,-
0, never was there queen
Most sweet queen, -
How now, lady!
Hear me, queen:
CLEO. Though age from folly could not give me freedom,
– a race of heaven :] The meaning is probably—of divine mould, or origin.
ANT. She's dead, my queen:
O, most false love!
ANT. Quarrel no more, but be prepard to know
Cut my lace, Charmian, come !
My precious queen, forbear;
So Fulvia told me.
You 'll heat my blood : nọ more!
And target !-Still he mends;
(*) First folio omits, my. - garboils—] Turmoils, commotions.
at the last, best,
See, &c.] The commentators will have the word best to relate to the “good end" made by Fulvia. But it is no more than an epithet of endearment which Antony applies to Cleopatra ;read at your leisure the troubles she awakened; and at the last, my best one, see when and where she died.
I am quickly ill, and well,
So Antony loves.) This has been misconceived: “So Antony loves" is "As Antony loves," and the sense therefore,-My health is as fickle as the love of Antony.
4 And give true evidence to his love, &o.] Mr. Collier's annotator, in his eagerness to confound all traces of our early language, would poorly read, “ true credence," which, like many of his suggestions, is very specious and quite wrong. The meaning of Antony is this,—"Forbear these taunts, and demonstrate to the world your confidence in my love by submitting it freely to the trial of absence.” In adopting his mythical correc. tor's excellent emendation,” Mr. Collier had, of course, forgotten that the very phrase ejected may be found in another of these plays,
“ Proceed no straiter 'gainst our uncle Gloster,
Than from true evidence, of good esteem,
How this Herculean Roman does become
ANT. I'll leave you, lady.
Courteous lord, one word.
But that your royalty
'Tis sweating labour
Let us go. Come :
SCENE IV.-Rome. An Apartment in Cæsar's House
CÆS. You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,
(*) First folio, vouchsafe.
The carriage of his chief.] The old and every modern edition read, " The carriage of his chafe.” Bu can any one who considers the epithet “Herculean,” which Cleopatra applies to Antony, and reads the following extract from Shakespeare's authority, hesitate for an instant to pronounce chafe a silly blunder of the transcriber or compositor for chief,” meaning Hercules, the head or principal of the house of the Antonii ? “ Now it had bene a speech of old time, that the family of the Antonij were descended from one Anton the son of Hercules whereof the family took the name. This opinion did Antonius seeke to confirme in ali his doings : not only resembling him in the likenesse of his body, as we have said before, but also in the wearing of his garments.”—Life of Antonius. Nortu's Plutarch.
• Our great competitor:) So Heath; the old text having, “ One great competitor."