Page images
PDF
EPUB

& 4 Fare thee well a while.”

But Antony had just this moment expressed a desire to hear all that the messenger had to say.

27. There's a great spirit gone / Thus did I * . desire it.” The excess of this line might be removed by reading: “There's a great spirit gone ! I it desir’d,” Or— & £ I this desir'd.”

to g The present pleasure,
“By revolution lowering, does become
“The opposite of itself.”

The general sense of revolution, I believe, is, as Mr. Steevens explains, change of circumstances; with reference, however, to the motion of a wheel, and half of its rotatory progress.

28. “We cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears.”

Upon this passage Mr. Malone remarks, that he once supposed Shakspeare had written—We cannot call her sighs and tears, winds and waters; which (he adds) is certainly the phraseology we should now use. Surely Mr. Malone has mistaken the ground of comparison: the difference of expression noted here, is not that which is made by the change of time in our language, but what is, and must be, at all times, and in all languages, the difference between poetry and prose: a plain man, in Shakspeare's time, just as in our own, speaking of a woman's grief, would say that she sighed and shed tears; but a Poet of any age, would call the sighs winds, and the tears waters or rivers: in short, the only differ$nce resulting from the suggested transposition of Enobarbus's words, is, that, instead of poetry, it Would make him speak plain, unfigurative prose.

32. “ High in name and power, “Higher than both in blood and life.”

By blood and life, I understand nobility and spirit.

sCENE III.

34. “ The sides of nature “JWill not sustain it.”

Thus in King Lear: “O, sides, ye are too tough: will ye yet hold.”

35. Mouth-made vows, “JWhich break themselves in swearing "

Which the protestor, even while he is making them, resolves to violate. 36. “ Quietness, grown sick of rest, would purge “By any desperate change.”

What is the difference between quietness and rest ? I am persuaded a letter has been carelessly changed, and that we should read, instead of “rest,” rust ; for the use of which, examples are not wanting. Falstaff says, “I were better to be eaten to death with the rust, than to be scoured to nothing with perpetual motion.” Second Part of King Henry IV. And in Troilus and Cressida, it is said of Hector, that he, “in this dull and long-continued truce,”

“Is rusty grown.”

37. “ Can Fulvia die 3’’

Cleopatra alludes, not to the natural life of Fulvia (for so, her question would be absurd), but to her existence in the affection of Antony; it is there the queen would, now, in her jealous mood, insinuate that Fulvia could not die.

[ocr errors]

I believe it means, this is so opportune an assertion that it is evident mockery; can it be that

she dies just when it suits the purpose? CAPE L Lo FFT.

39. “How this Herculean Roman does become “The carriage of his chafe.”

How well this Roman descendant of Hercules adapts his deportment to the expression of his anger.

40. “O, my oblivion is a very Antony, “And I am all forgotten.”

Oblivion appears to mean, as Mr. Steevens supposes, deceitful memory, which, like Antony, has now deserted her, and left her, on all sides, forgotten.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The editor of the first folio, who gives laurel victory, is charged, perhaps too hastily, by Mr. Steevens with inaccuracy. Victory is personified; and victory in the laurel, i.e. laurel victory, was that with which Cleopatra wished to adorn the sword of Antony. -

SCENE IV.

42. “One great competitor.” Dr. Johnson proposed, “Our great competitor.”

But I am rather inclined to think the word in the text was deliberately adopted. Octavius observes a stately reserve, speaking of Anthony. “One great competitor” appears to me somewhat equivalent to our modern expression, a certain ersonage, our partner; but it may only mean, one of the great Triumviri.

43. “ Nor the queen Ptolemy.”

The omission of the preposition of, before Ptolemy, here, must doubtless have been an inaccuracy of the printer's; but there is great disorder in the lines following. We might, perhaps, regulate them in this manner:

“ — Nor the queen of Ptolemy “More womanly than he ; he scarce gave audience, “Or vouchsafd think he hād partners : you shall find “In him, a man the abstract of all faults “That all men follow.

“More fiery by night’s blackness; hereditary.” I believe the poet wrote, preserving the metre,

“More fiery by night's black; hereditary.

44. “Than what he chooses.”

I suppose some words are lost from this hemistic; perhaps these: “Caesar, think it so.”

[ocr errors]

Say, this becomes him,
“(As his composure must be rare indeed
“JWhom these things cannot blemish.)”

Dr. Johnson says, this is inconsequent, and Mr. Malone, though armed to defend the expression, abandons it as being harsh, but where is the harshness or inconsequence? Dr. Johnson proposes to read and for as , but this alteration, instead of improving the sense, impairs it. “As” is preferable to “and,” because it denotes referential consequence, not simple connection; it is not so much association as inference; as we shall find in the following apposite instances:

“Utter my thoughts Why say they are vile and false

“(As where's the palace whereinto foul things

“Sometimes intrude not 1)

Who that reads this passage in Othello, could substitute and for as, without perceiving that he enfeebled the sense; it is a material part of Iago's argument. “As where's the palace,” i. e. agreeably to what I have been saying, where is the palace, &c. Again, in the same play:

I beseech you,
“Though I, perchance, am vicious in my guess,
“(As I confess it is my nature's plague
“To spy into abuses,)” &c.

And in Cymbeline, Act 1, Scene 7:

If this be true,
“As I have such a heart that both mine ears
“Must not in haste abuse.”

45. Yet must Antony “No way eacuse his soils.”

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »