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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 eyes',
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 by th'
tended her the eyes,] Perhaps 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;
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,
It should be better, he became her guest;
"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,
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. For what his EYES EAT only.] Thus Martial: Inspexit molles pueros, oculisque comedit. STEEVENS,
She made great Cæsar lay his sword to bed;
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.
BECOME themselves in her ;] So, in our author's 150th Sonnet :
MEC. If beauty, wisdom, modesty, can settle The heart of Antony, Octavia is
A blessed lottery to him3.
"Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill?"
1 - 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:
"Her eyes have power beyond Thessalian charms,
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.
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." STEEVENS. Again, in J. Davies's Scourge of Folly, printed about the year
"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."
Let us go.
Good Enobarbus, make yourself my guest,
The Same. A Room in CÆSAR'S House.
Enter CESAR, ANTONY, OCTAVIA between them; Attendants and a Soothsayer.
ANT. The world, and my great office, will some
Divide me from your bosom.
All which time
Good night, sir.-My Octavia,
I have not kept my square; but that to come Shall all be done by the rule. Good night, dear lady.
Good night, sir 5.
Again, in The Honest Man's Fortune, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
"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 copy of this play are given to Antony, the modern edi