« PreviousContinue »
So is the fame.
'Would, we had spoke together? Haste we for it: Yet, ere we put ourselves in arms, despatch we The business we have talk'd of.
And do invite you to my sister's view,
Whither straight I will lead you.
With most gladness *;
Let us, Lepidus,
Not sickness should detain me.
[Flourish. Exeunt CESAR, ANTONY, and LEPIDUS.
MEC. Welcome from Egypt, sir.
ENO. Half the heart of Cæsar, worthy Mecænas! -my honourable friend, Agrippa !—
AGR. Good Enobarbus !
MEC. We have cause to be glad, that matters are so well digested. You stay'd well by it in Egypt. ENO. Ay, sir; we did sleep day out of countenance, and made the night light with drinking.
MEC. Eight wild boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and but twelve persons there; is this true?
ENO. This was but as a fly by an eagle: we had much more monstrous matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting.
MEC. She's a most triumphant lady, if report be square to her 5.
ENO. When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart, upon the river of Cydnus".
- MOST gladness;] i. e. greatest. So, in King Henry VI. Part I.:
"But always resolute in most extremes." STEEVENS. be sQUARE to her.] i. e. if report quadrates with her, or suits with her merits. .STEEVENS.
6 When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart, upon the river of Cydnus.] This passage is a strange instance of
AGR. There she appeared indeed; or my reporter devised well for her.
ENO. I will tell you:
The barge she sat in ', like a burnish'd throne, Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold; Purple the sails, and so perfumed, that
negligence and inattention in Shakspeare. Enobarbus is made to say that Cleopatra gained Antony's heart on the river Cydnus ; but it appears from the conclusion of his own description, that Antony had never seen her there; that, whilst she was on the river, Antony was sitting alone, enthroned in the market-place, whistling to the air, all the people having left him to gaze upon her and that, when she landed, he sent to her to invite her to supper. M. MASON.
7 The barge she sat in, &c.] The reader may not be displeased with the present opportunity of comparing our author's description with that of Dryden :
"Her galley down the silver Cydnus row'd,
"The tackling, silk, the streamers wav'd with gold,
"Her nymphs, like Nereids, round her couch were plac'd,
"She lay, and leant her cheek upon her hand,
"As if, secure of all beholders' hearts,
Neglecting she could take 'em : Boys, like Cupids,
"A darting glory seem'd to blaze abroad;
"That man's desiring eyes were never wearied,
"The silver oars kept time; and while they play'd,
"The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight,
"And both to thought. 'Twas heaven, or somewhat
"For she so charm'd all hearts, that gazing crouds
"Stood panting on the shore, and wanted breath
"To give their welcome voice." REED.
like a burnish'd THRONE,
BURN'D on the water:] The same idea occurs in Chapman's translation of the tenth book of the Odyssey:
In a throne she plac'd
My welcome person. Of a curious frame
""Twas, and so bright, I sat as in a flame." STEEVENS
The winds were love-sick with them: the oars were
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
In her pavilion, (cloth of gold, of tissue,)
O, rare for Antony! ENO. Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides, So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes2,
9 O'er picturing that Venus, where we see, &c.] Meaning the Venus of Protogenes, mentioned by Pliny, 1. xxxv. c. x. ;
' And what they undid, did.] It might be read less harshly: "And what they did, undid." JOHNSON.
The reading of the old copy is, I believe, right. The wind of the fans seemed to give a new colour to Cleopatra's cheeks, which they were employed to cool; and "what they undid ;" i. e. that warmth which they were intended to diminish or allay, they did, i. e. they seemed to produce. MALONE.
tended her i' the eyes,] eyes," discovered her will by her eyes. So, Spenser, Fairy Queen, b. i. c. iii.:
he wayted diligent,
"tended her by th' JOHNSON.
"With humble service to her will prepar'd;
Again, in our author's 149th Sonnet :
"Commanded by the motion of thine eyes."
The words of the text may, however, only mean, they performed their duty in the sight of their mistress. MALONE.
Perhaps this expression, as it stands in the text, may signify that the attendants on Cleopatra looked observantly into her eyes, to catch her meaning, without giving her the trouble of verbal explanation. Shakspeare has a phrase as uncommon, in another play:
And made their bends adornings3: at the helm
And made a gap in nature.
ENO. Upon her landing, Antony sent to her, Invited her to supper: she replied,
It should be better, he became her guest; Which she entreated: Our courteous Antony, Whom ne'er the word of No woman heard speak, Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast; And, for his ordinary, pays his heart,
For what his eyes eat only ".
"Sweats in the eye of Phoebus-."
After all, I believe that "tended her in th' eyes," only signifies waited before her, in her presence, in her sight. So, in Hamlet, Act IV. Sc. IV.:
If that his majesty would aught with us, "We shall express our duty in his eye."
i. e. in our personal attendance on him, by giving him ocular proof of our respect. Mr. Henley explains it thus: " obeyed her looks without waiting for her words." See note on Hamlet, Act IV. Sc. IV. vol. vii. p. 419. STEEvens.
3 And made their bends ADORNINGS.] I have carried the very long notes on this passage to the end of the play. BOSWELL.
4 That yarely frame the office.] i. e. readily and dexterously perform the task they undertake. See Tempest, Act I. Sc. I. STEEVENS.
5 – which, but for vacancy,
Had gone-] Alluding to an axiom in the peripatetic philosophy then in vogue, that Nature abhors a vacuum. WARBURTON. "But for vacancy," means, for fear of a vacuum. MALONE. For what his EYES EAT only.] Thus Martial:
Inspexit molles pueros, oculisque comedit. STEEVENS.
Royal wench! She made great Cæsar lay his sword to bed; He plough'd her, and she cropp'd.
I saw her once
Hop forty paces through the publick street:
And having lost her breath, she spoke, and panted, That she did make defect, perfection,
And, breathless, power breathe forth.
MEC. Now Antony must leave her utterly.
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
7 Age cannot wither her, nor custom STALE
Her infinite variety:] Such is the praise bestowed by Shakspeare on his heroine; a praise that well deserves the consideration of our female readers. Cleopatra, as appears from the tetradrachms of Antony, was no Venus; and indeed the majority of ladies who most successfully enslaved the hearts of princes, are known to have been less remarkable for personal than mental attractions. The reign of insipid beauty is seldom lasting; but permanent must be the rule of a woman who can diversify the sameness of life by an inexhausted variety of accomplishments. To stale is a verb employed by Heywood, in The Iron Age, 1632:
"One that hath stal'd his courtly tricks at home." STEEVENS.
8 Other women
Cloy th' appetites they feed; but she makes hungry, Where most she satisfies.] Almost the same thought, clothed nearly in the same expressions, is found in the old play of Pericles : "Who starves the ears she feeds, and makes them hungry, "The more she gives them speech."
Again, in our author's Venus and Adonis :
"And yet not cloy thy lips with loath'd satiety,
"But rather famish them amid their plenty." Malone. 9 For VILEST THINGS
BECOME themselves in her;] So, in our author's 150th Sonnet :