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The qualities of people. Come, my queen;
[Exeunt Ant. and Cleo. with their Train.. Dem. Is Cæsar with Antonius priz'd so slight?
Phi. Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony,
I'm full sorry,
The same. Another Room.
Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer.6
Char. Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas, almost absolute Alexas, where 's the soothsayer that you praised so to the queen? O, that I knew
time also when he would goe up and downe the citie disguised like a slave in the night, and would peere into poore mens' windowes and their shops, and scold and brawl with them within the house ; Cleopatra would be also in a chamber maides array, and amble up and down the streets with him,” &c. Steevens.
$ That he approves the common liar,] Fame. That he proves the common liar, fame, in his case to be a true reporter. Malone. So, in Hamlet :
“He may approve our eyes, and speak to it.” Steevens. 6 Enter Charmian, Iras, Alexas, and a Soothsayer.] The old copy reads: “Enter Enobarbus, Lamprius, a Soothsayer, Rannius, Lucilius, Charmian, Iras, Mardian the Eunuch, and Alexas." Plutarch mentions his grandfather Lamprias, as his author for some of the stories he relates of the profuseness and luxury of Antony's entertainments at Alexandria. Shakspeare appears to have been very anxious in this play to introduce every incident and every personage he met with in his historian. In the multitude of his characters, however, Lamprias is entirely overlooked, together with the others whose names we find in this stagedirection.
It is not impossible, indeed, that Lamprias, Rannius, Lucilius, &c. might have been speakers in this scene as it was first writ. ten down by Shakspeare, who afterwards thought proper to omit their speeches, though at the same time he forgot to erase their names as originally announced at their collective entrance.
this husband, which, you say, must change his horns with garlands !6
change his horns with garlands !) This is corrupt; the true reading evidently is :-must charge his horns with garlands, i. e. make him a rich and honourable cuckold, having his horns hung about with garlands. Warburton.
Sir Thomas Hanmer reads, not improbably, change for horns his garlands. I am in doubt, whether to change is not merely to dress, or to dress with changes of garlands. Johnson. So, Taylor, the water-poet, describing the habit of a coach
with a cloak of some pyed colour, with two or three change of laces about." Change of clothes, in the time of Shakspeare, signified variety of them. Coriolanus says that he has received “ change of honours” from the Patricians. Act II, sc. i.
That to change with, “ applied to two things, one of which is to be put in the place of the other,” is the language of Shakspeare, Mr. Malone might have learned from the following passage in Cymbeline, Act l, sc. vi, i.e. the Queen's speech to Pisanio:
to shift his being, “ Is to exchange one misery with another." Again, in the 4th Book of Milton's Paradise Lost, v. 892:
where thou might'st hope to change “ Torment with ease.' Steevens. I once thought that these two words might have been often confounded, by their being both abbreviated, and written chāge. But an n, as the Bishop of Dromore observes to me, was some. times omitted both in MS. and print, and the omission thus marked, but an r never. This therefore might account for a compositor inadvertently printing charge instead of change, but not change instead of charge; which word was never abbreviated. I also doubted the phraseology-change with, and do not at present recollect any example of it in Shakspeare's plays or in his time; whilst in The Taming of the Shrew, we have the modern phraseology-change for :
“To change true rules for odd inventions." But a careful revision of these plays has taught me to place no confidence in such observations; for from some book or other of the age, I have no doubt almost every combination of words that may be found in our author, however uncouth it may appear to our ears, or however different from modern phraseology, will at some time or other be justified. In the present edition, many which were considered as undoubtedly corrupt, have been incontrovertibly supported.
Still, however, I think, that the reading originally introduced by Mr. Theobald, and adopted by Dr. Warburton, is the true one, because it affords a clear sense; whilst, on the other hand, the reading of the old copy affords none: for supposing change with to mean exchange for, what idea is conveyed by this passage? and what other sense can these words bear? The substantive change being formerly used to signify variety, (as change VOL. XIII.
Sooth. In nature 's infinite book of secrecy,.
Show him your hand.
Char. Good sir, give me good fortune.
of clothes, of honours, &c.) proves nothing: change of clothes or linen necessarily imports more than one ; but the thing sought for is the meaning of the verb to change, and no proof is produced to show that it signified to dress, or that it had any other mean. ing than to exchange.
Charmian is talking of her future husband, who ertainly could not change his horns, at present, for garlands, or any thing else, having not yet obtained them; nor could she mean, that when he did get them, he should change or part with them, for garlands: but he might charge his horns, when he should marry Charmian, with garlands: for having once got them, she intended, we may suppose, that he should wear them contentedly for life Horns charged with garlands, is an expression of a similar import with one which is found in Characterismi, or Lenton's Leasures, 8vo. 1631. In the description of a contented cuckold, he is said to “hold his velvet horns high as the best of them."
Let it also be remembered that garlands are usually wreathed found the head; a circumstance which adds great support to the emendation now made. So, Sidney:
"A garland made, on temples for to wear.” It is observable that the same mistake as this happened in Coriolanus, where the same correction was made by Dr. Warburton, and adopted by all the subsequent editors :
“ And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
" That should but rive an oak.” The old copy there, as here, has change. Since this note was written, I have met with an example of the phrase-to change with, in Lyly's Maydes Metamorphosis, 1600 :
“The sweetness of that banquet must forego,
“Whose pleasant taste is chang’d with bitter woe.” I am still, however, of opinion that charge, and not change, is the true reading, for the reasons assigned in my original note.
Malone. “To change his horns with [i. e. for] garlands," signifies, to be a triumphant cuckold; a cuckold who will consider his state as an honourable one. Thus, says Benedick, in Much Ado about Nothing : “ There is no staff more honourable than one tipt with horn.” We are not to look for serious argument in such a óskipping dialogue" as that before us. Steevens,
Sooth. I make not, but foresee.
Char. Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all: let me have a child at fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage:' find me to marry me with Octavius Cæsar, and companion me with my mistress.
? I had rather heat my lider &c.] So, in The Merchant of Venice :
“And let my liver rather heat with wine.” Steevens. To know why the lady is so averse from heating her liver, it must be remembered, that a heated liver is supposed to make a pimpled face. Fohnson.
The following passage in an ancient satirical poem, entitled Notes from Blachfryars, 1617, confirms Dr. Johnson's observation :
“ He 'll not approach a taverne, no nor drink ye,
Scalding hot, by the bubbles on his nose." Malone, The liver was considered as the seat of desire. In answer to the Soothsayer, who tells her she shall be very loving, she says, “She had rather heat her liver by drinking, if it was to be heated.” M. Mason.
- let me have a child at fifty,] This is one of Shakspeare's natural touches. Few circumstances are more fattering to the fair sex, than breeding at an advanced period of life. Steevens.
— to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage:] Herod paid homage to the Romans, to procure the grant of the kingdom of Judea : but I believe there is an allusion here to the theatrical character of this monarch, and to a proverbial expression founded on it. Herod was always one of the personages in the mysteries of our early stage, on which he was constantly represented as a fierce, haughty, blustering tyrant, so that Herod of Jewry became a common proverb, expressive of turbulence and rage. Thus, Hamlet says of a ranting player, that he “out-herods Herod.” And, in this tragedy, Alexas tells Cleopatra, that “not even Herod of Jewry dare look upon her when she is angry;" i. e. not even a man as fierce as Herod. According to this explanation, the sense of the present passage will be-Charmian
Sooth. You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.
Sooth. You have seen and proved a fairer former fortune Than that which is to approach.
Char. Then, belike, my children shall have no names:2 Pr’ythee, how many boys and wenches must I have ? Sooth. If
wishes had a womb, And fertile every wish, a million.3
wishes for a son who may arrive at such power and dominion that the proudest and fiercest monarchs of the earth may be brought under his yoke. Steevens.
- I love long life better than figs.] This is a proverbial expression. Steevens.
2 Then, belike, my children shall have no names :) If I have already had the best of my fortune, then I suppose, I shall never name children, that is, I am never to be married. However, tell me the truth, tell me, how many boys and wenches? Fohnson.
A fairer fortune, I believe, means—a more reputable one. Her answer then implies, that belike all her children will be bastards, who have no right to the name of their father's family. Thus, says Launce, in the third Act of The Two Gentlemen of Verona: “That's as much as to say bastard virtues, that indeed know not their fathers, and therefore have no names.' Steevens.
A line in our author's Rape of Lucrece confirms Mr. Steevens's interpretation:
“Thy issue blurr'd with nameless bastardy.” Malone. If every of your wishes had a womb,
And fertile every wish, a million.] For foretel, in ancient editions, the later copies have foretold. Foretel favours the emendation of Dr. Warburton, which is made with great acuteness ; yet the original reading may, I think, stand. If you had as many wombs as you will have wishes, and I should foretel all those wishes, I should foretel a million of children. It is an ellipsis very frequent in conversation; I should shame you, and tell all; that is, and if I should tell all. And is for and if, which was anciently, and is still provincially, used for if. Johnson.
If every one of your wishes, says the Soothsayer, had a womb, and each womb-invested wish were likewise fertile, you then would have a million of children. The merely supposing each of her wishes to have a womb, would not warrant the Soothsayer to pronounce that she should have any children, much less a million; for, like Calphurnia, each of these wombs might be subject to “the sterile curse.” The word fertile, therefore, is absolutely requisite to the sense.
in the instance given by Dr. Johnson, “I should shame you, and tell all,” I occurs in the former part of the sentence, and therefore may be well omitted afterwards ; but here no personal pronoun has been introduced. Malone.