Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

The winds were love-sick with them: the oars were

silver; Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made The water, which they beat, to follow faster, As amorous of their strokes.

For her own person, It beggar'd all description : she did lie In her pavilion, (cloth of gold, of tissue,) O'er-picturing that Venus, where we see!, The fancy out-work nature: on each side her, Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids, With diverse-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool, And what they undid, did'. AGR.

O, rare for Antony ! Eno. Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides, So many mermaids, tended her i’ the eyes?,

2

9 O'er picturing that Venus, where we see, &c.] Meaning the Venus of Protogenes, mentioned by Pliny, 1. xxxv. C. X.:

WARBURTON. * 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,] Perhaps “ tended her by th' eyes,” discovered her will by her eyes.

JOHNSON.
So, Spenser, Fairy Queen, b. i. c. iii.:

- he wayted diligent,
“ With humble service to her will prepar’d;
From her fayre eyes he tooke commandement,

And by her looks conceited her intent.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 adornings : at the helm
A seeming Mermaid steers; the silken tackle
Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands,
That yarely frame the office 4. From the barge
A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
Her people out upon her; and Antony,
Enthron'd i' the market-place, did sit alone,
Whistling to the air ; which, but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made a gap in nature.
AGR.

Rare Egyptian !
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 o.

“ 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. - 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. o For what his eyes Eat only.] Thus Martial :

Inspexit molles pueros, oculisque comedit. Steevens,

5

AGR.

Royal wench:
She made great Cæsar lay his sword to bed ;
He plough'd her, and she cropp’d.
Eno.

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.

Eno. Never ; he will not ; Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale Her infinite variety?: Other women cloy The appetites they feed; but she makes hungry, Where most she satisfies 8. For vilest things Become themselves in hero; that the holy priests? Bless her, when she is riggish ?.

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 stald 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.

For vilEST THINGS Become themselves in her ;] So, in our author's 150th Sonnet :

[ocr errors]

9

66 Her

66

Mec. If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle The heart of Antony, Octavia is A blessed lottery to him '. “Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill ?"

MALONE. the holy priests, &c.} In this, and the foregoing description of Cleopatra's passage down the Cydnus, Dryden seems to have emulated Shakspeare, and not without success :

-she's dangerous :
eyes

have power beyond Thessalian charms,
“ To draw the moon from heaven. For eloquence,

The sea-green sirens taught her voice their flattery;

And, while she speaks, night steals upon the day, “ Unmark'd of those that hear: Then, she's so charming,

Age buds at sight of her, and swells to youth : “ The holy priests gaze on her when she smiles ; “And with heav'd hands, forgetting gravity,

They bless her wanton eyes. Even I who hate her, “ With a malignant joy behold such beauty,

“ And while I curse desire it." Be it remembered, however, that, in both instances, without a spark from Shakspeare, the blaze of Dryden might not have been enkindled. REED.

2 - when she is RIGGISH.] Rigg is an ancient word meaning a strumpet. So, in Whetstone's Castle of Delight, 1576 :

* Then loath they will both lust and wanton love,

“ Or else be sure such ryggs my care shall prove." Again:

“ Immodest rigg, I Ovid's counsel usde."
Again, in Churchyard's Dolorous Gentlewoman, 1593 :

“ About the streets was gadding, gentle rigge,
“ With clothes tuckt up to set bad ware to sale,
“ For youth good stuffe, and for olde age a stale."

STEVENS. Again, in J. Davies's Scourge of Folly, printed about the year 1611:

“When wanton rig, or lecher dissolute,
“ Do stand at Paules Cross in a--suite." MALONE.
Octavia is

A BLESSED LOTTERY to him.] Dr. Warburton says, the poet wrote allottery, but there is no reason for this assertion. The ghost of Andrea, in The Spanish Tragedy, says:

“ Minos in graven leaves of lottery

“ Drew forth the manner of my life and death.” FARMER. So, in Stanyhurst's translation of Virgil, 1582:

By this hap escaping the filth of lottarye carnal."

3

AGR.

Let us go. -
Good Enobarbus, make yourself my guest,
Whilst you abide here.
Eno.

Humbly, sir, I thank you.

[Exeunt.

SCENE III.

The Same. A Room in CÆSAR's House.

4

Enter CÆSAR, Antony, Octavia between them;

Attendants and a Soothsayer. Ant. The world, and my great office, will some

times
Divide me from your bosom.
Octa.

All which time
Before the gods my knee shall bow my prayers
To them for you.
ANT.

Good night, sir.—My Octavia,
Read not my blemishes in the world's report :
I have not kept my square ; but that to come
Shall all be done by the rule. Good night, dear

lady:Good night, sir.

4

Again, in The Honest Man's Fortune, by Beaumont and Fletcher:

fainting under “ Fortune's false lottery.Steevens. Lottery for allotment. Henley.

shall bow my prayers -] The same construction is found in Coriolanus, Act I. Sc. I. :

Shouting their emulation." Again, in King Lear, Act II. Sc. II. :

Smile you my speeches ?" Modern editors [Mr. Malone excepted] have licentiously read : bow in prayers."

STEEVENS. 5 Ant. Good night, dear lady.

Oct. Good night, sir.] These last words, which in the only authentick

of this play are given to Antony, the modern edi7

copy

« ElőzőTovább »