Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lee has imitated this passage, in The Massacre of Paris : Adml, “ But yet, my lord.” Guj. No yet, my lord; no yet,

“By arms I hear you that.” Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear."

Surely Mr. Capell's emendation, thy pack, was entitled here to a place in the text. The queen says, presently“ The merchandize which thou hast brought

from Rome “ Are all too dear for me.” 106. “So half my Egypt were submerg'd,&c.

I cannot extract meaning from this passage, as it stands; at least not any apposite meaning: so" must relate to a consequence; so that, provided that; but Cleopatra would surely be as well pleased to know that Antony was not married, with the possession of her kingdom entire, as with the loss or destruction of half of it, though to purchase that assurance she might be willing to make so great a sacrifice. I am persuaded that, by some typographic error, a word has been changed, and that we should read : Mess. “ Should I lie, madam ?” Cleop. "O, I would thou did'st,

“ Tho' half my Egypt were submerg’d,”.

&c. So half my Egypt were submergd,&c. I think “so” has the sense of though, here: even if it were—so that; it is a licentious cona struction; but I believe it is Shakspeare's.

CAPEL LOFFT.

" A cistern for scald snakes !"A similar expression occurs in Othello : 6

A cistern for foul toads To knot and gender in.' 107. “O, that his fault should make a knave of

thee, That art not !JVhat? thou'rt sure

oft ?"

None of the commentators, I believe, has explained this passage with sufficient clearness. Mr. Malone proposes “ sore-of," instead of “ sure-of;” but the messenger could only be “ sore-of the blows he had received ; and to say he was not, THE BLOWs” would have but little meaning. This appears to me to be the sense :-“O strange! that this perfidy of Antony should so infect thee, who relatest it, as to exhibit thee, to my apprehension, not only ugly, but dishonest, and yet thou art not to blame-thou art not the ill tidings that are so hateful--thou only dost report what thou knowest, or art assured of.

SCENE VI.

110. “ Tall youth.

i. e. Gallant youth. 113. “ Well studied for a liberal thanks.

He had long meditated on a free acknowledgment of Pompey's favours. It is a theatrical phrase; as, in Macbeth, Macdonald is said to have died like one that had been studied in his death.

114. “ That will I, Pompey.— We might read, metrically,

“Draw lots who shall begin.” Ant.

I, Pompey, will." Pomp. “No, Antony, let's take the lot: but,

first,” &c. 115. It nothing ill becomes thee.

We might restore the measure thus : “ It nothing ill becomes theě: aboard my galley I do invite you all. Will ye lead, lords ? 116. If our eyes had authority, here they

might take two thieves kissing.Enobarbus alludes to Pompey and Cæsar; he and Menas had good-humouredly reproached each other with being a thief, and then immediately reflecting that the depredations they had mutually committed were not of their own choice, or for their own ends, but by the command of their masters, Enobarbus cries, give me your hand, and then, glancing at the grand spoilers, who were now embracing one another, remarks, here, if our eyes could exercise authority, they might apprehend two thieves, indeed. Men.All men's faces are true, whatsoeer

their hands are.Eno. But there is never a fair woman has a

true face." Men. No slander ; they steal hearts.

Enobarbus had pointed at the circumstance of Pompey and Cæsars embracing, while he was shaking hands with Menas; on which Menas re

marks," those exterior ceremonies are of little value or effect, for though, by their shaking hands, they would appear to beat amity, their countenance betrays the deception;" the face, says he, is always a true index of the mind. Yet, says Enobarbus, a fair woman never has a true face. You are right, adds Menas, and speak no slander, for a fair woman is always a thief-she steals hearts.

SCENE VII.

125. Who seeks, and will not take, when once

'tis offer'd, Shall never find it more." This is a maxim that the poet seems fond of impressing: thus, in Julius Cæsar : « There is a tide in the affairs of men, “Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; “ But, once omitted, all their future life “ Is bound in shallows and in miseries.” 127. Till that the conquering wine hath steep'd

our sense In soft and delicate Lethe.“Lethe” may be merely " oblivion,” but I rather think a metaphoric “ death” is meant: in other places Lethe is used for death directly, as in Julius Cæsar:

“ Crimson’d in thy Lethe.”

"- Delicate Lethe,I believe, is merely sweet oblivion. “Lethe,” in Julius Cæsar, is a monosyllable, from Lethum.

CAPEL LOFYT. ACT III. SCENE I.

131. AG A lower place

"May make too great an act.

A person in a subordinate station may do himself injury by performing too splendid an action.

When him we serve's away.“ Him” should be changed, in the text, to he. Mr. Malone's assertion that this was Shakspeare's phraseology is unfounded. The blunder is, with much more fitness, ascribable to the ignorance, or rather carelessness of the early transcribers or editors.

Than gain, which darkens him." This hemistic might, with a slight alteration, find place in the measure: " Ambition, “ The soldier's virtue, rather makes a choice Of loss, than of that gain which darkens him." 132. We shall appear before him. On there;

pass along.' “ On there,” I suppose, is interpolation.

[ocr errors]

SCENE II. 134.To Antony. But as for Cæsar." Perhaps :

Unto Antonius; but as for Cæsar.”

« PreviousContinue »