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Dr. Johnson, when he suggested his transposition," and what they did, undid," seems not to have considered the passage with his usual perspicacity: the wind agitated by the fans, or (as it is expressed) the wind' of the fans, appeared to inflame the cheeks which they were cooling, and to produce that effect which they were really counteracting “Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides, “So many mermaids, tended her i'the eyes, “And made their bends adornings.”
The brief meaning of this belaboured passage I take to be this :-Her gentlewomen, personating · Nereides, watchfully devoted themselves to the
commands of her looks, and by their obsequious gestures improved the gracefulness of the general picture. 86. “ A strange invisible perfume hits the
sense." Until the commentators, who appear, in this place, as in many others, to overrate the sagacity of the general readers of these works, shall condescend to explain “ invisible perfume,” or tell us how a perfume is ever visible, or what sense, except that which is placed in the nose, can at all be “hit” by it, I must consign this passage to Mr. Bayes. Perhaps the meaning intended was, that the cause or source of the perfume was unperceived. 89. “ Which she entreated : Our courteous
Antony." “Our," which burthens the line, might well be omitted.
“ And, for his ordinary, pays his heart,
" For what his eyes eat only." I suppose we should read: “And at his ordinary, pays his heart, .
“For what his eyes,” &c. “ She made great Cæsar lay his sword to bed."
There is wonderful boldness and animation in this expression. “
She croppid.” “ Crop," a verb neuter; she became fruitful, produced a crop. 90. “ Never; he will not."
This is miserably defective, Words have been lost; perhaps, like these :
“ Be assured of it."
She makes hungry, " Where most she satisfies.”We meet with the same thought in Hamlet :
" She would hang on him,
Vilest things " Become themselves in her." Look amiable in her. Antony had before ex: claimed: “ Fy, wrangling queen, whom every thing be
comes. 91. “- --Octavia is
“ A blessed lottery to him.”
In Coriolanus, “ lots” is explained “prizes ;." and of that explanation, this passage appears to be a support,
SCENE III. 92. “ Before the gods my knee shall bow my
prayers.' Mr. Steevens here says, the same construction is found in Coriolanus,“ shouting their emulation;" and in King Lear,“ smile you my speeches ?*? 'But surely these references are inapplicable. “Shouting their emulation,” is signifying their emulation by shouts and a smile you my speeches ?” is merely elliptical; do you smile at my speeches ? or do you make my speeches a subject to smile at? The present is a bold poetic figure :- The action of my knee shall teach or command the humility of my prayers for you to the gods. 93. “ From thence."
The superfluous preposition ought certainly here to be dismissed, as it only encumbers the verse : “ Would he had never come thence, nor you
thither.” Mr. M. Masons emendation is very plausible, “ nor you hither," and the measure might proceed :
“ If you can, sir, your reason ?"
I see't in,” &c. 94. “ Cæsar's.”
This word might be brought into the metre, by a commodious and slight alteration :
“ Cæsar's ; so, Antóny, stay not by his side." “ Thy dæmon, that's thy spirit which keeps thee,
is.” Instead of “ spirit,” here, we might, for smoothness, read, as in other places, "sprite.” "
Speak this no more." I do not know whether a rhyme were intended here, or not; but the hypermeter should at all events be removed :
“ Make space enough between you."
I believe Mr. Steevens is not accurate, in say. ing that “ moody” is melancholy: it is rather, I think, fitful, suiting any particular gust or strain of passion. Dryden mentions“ ireful mood,” and Gray, “moody madness laughing wild, amid severest woe;" and our poet, in the Third Part of King Henry VI. " moody, discontented fury.” 99.“ Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his
bed.” “ Drunk" should be altered to “ drank.” She gave him his sleeping draught.
“ My tires.”“ Tires,” perhaps, means no more than “ robes, general dress,"-an abridgment of “ attire.”.
101. “ Antony's dead ?”
The metre here is interrupted. I believe we should order it thus; “ Antony's dead ?-If, villain, thou say so, “ Thou kill'st thy mistress : but if well and free, “ If thou so yield him,” &c.
“ First, madam, he's well.” “Madam” might well be spared, to preserve the measure.
“ Down thy ill-uttering throat.” Some words seem to have been lost: perhaps, such as these : “ therefore look to't.” 103. “
I am pale Charmian." This appears to be a whimsical expression :though Cleopatra might turn pale at the news she heard, how should she herself perceive the paleness ?
The consideration of this question will, I believe, be sufficient to confute Mr. Steevens's assertion upon that passage in Hamlet, referring to the actor's visage conforming to the workings of his soul. See note on that passage, Act 2, Scene 2, Page 156. Reid's Edit, "
Thou’rt an honest man.” “ Thou’rt” might be omitted, and the metre preserved :
- Well said.”
- An honest man.” “ But yet, madam." Cleop. “ I do not like but yet.
Fy upon but yet.”