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Char. Out, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.4 Alex. You think, none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.
Char. Nay, come, tell Iras hers.
Eno. Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be drunk to bed.
Iras. There's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else. Char. Even as the o'erflowing Nilus presageth famine. Iras. Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
Char. Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication,5 I cannot scratch mine ear.--Pry'thee, tell her but a worky-day fortune.
Sooth. Your fortunes are alike.
Char. Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where would you choose it?
Iras. Not in my husband's nose.
Char. Our worser thoughts heavens mend! Alexas come, his fortune, his fortune.--0, let him marry a woThe epithet fertile is applied to womb, in Timon of Athens :
“Ensear thy fertile and conceptious womb.” I have received Dr. Warburton's most happy emendation.
The reader who wishes for more instruction on this subject, may consult Goulart's Admirable Histories, &c. 4to. 1607, p. 222, where we are told of a Sicilian woman who “was so fertile, as at thirty birthes shee had seaventie three children.” Steevens.
I forgive thee for a witch.] From a common proverbial reproach to silly ignorant females: “You 'll never be burnt for a witch.” Steevens.
5 Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, &c.] Só, in Othello:
This hand is moist, my lady :“This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart.” Malore. Antonio, in Dryden's Don Sebastian, has the same remark: 1
“ I have a moist, sweaty palm, the more 's my sin. Steevens. 6 Alexas,-come, his fortune,] [In the old copy, the name of Alexas is prefixed to this speech.]
Whose fortune does Alexas call out to have told? But, in short, this I dare pronounce to be so palpable and signal a transposition, that I cannot but wonder it should have slipt the observation of all the editors; especially of the sagacious Mr Pope, who has made this declaration, That if, throughout the plays, had all the speeches been printed without the very names of the persons,
man that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee! And let her die too, and give him a worse! and let worse follow worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight; good Isis, I beseech thee!
Iras. Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people! for, as it is a heart-breaking to see a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded; Therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune him accordingly!
Alex. Lo, now! if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but they'd do 't.
Eno. Hush! here comes Antony.
Not he, the queen.
No, lady. Cleo.
Was he not here? Char. No, madam.
Cleo. He was dispos’d to mirth; but on the sudden
he believes one might have applied them with certainty to every speaker. But in how many instances has Mr. Pope's want of judgment falsified this opinion? The fact is evidently this: Alexas brings a fortune-teller to Iras and Charmian, and says himself, We'll know all our fortunes. Well; the Soothsayer begins with the women; and some jokes pass upon the subject of husbands and chastity: after which, the women hoping for the satisfaction of having something to laugh at in Alexas's fortune, call him to hold out his hand, and wish heartily that he may have the prognostication of cuckoldom upon him. The whole speech, therefore, must be placed to Charmian. There needs no stronger proof of this being a true correction, than the observation which Alexas immediately subjoins on their wishes and zeal to hear him abused. Theobald.
? Saw you my lord?] Old copy-Save you. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Saw was formerly written sawe.
Enter Antony, with a Messenger and Attendants.
sayer, and Attendants.
Mess. Ay: But soon that war had end, and the time 's state Made friends of them, jointing their force 'gainst Cæsar, Whose better issue in the war, from Italy, Upon the first encounter, drave them.9 Ant.
Well, What worst?
Mess. The nature of bad news infects the teller.
Ant. When it concerns the fool, or coward.--On:
Here, madam, ] The respect due from Alexas to his mistress, in my opinion, points out the title-Madam, (which is wanting in the old copy) as a proper cure for the present defect in metre.
Steevens. drave them.] Drave is the ancient preterite of the verb, to drive, and frequently occurs in the Bible. Thus, in Foshua, xxiv, 12: “ and drave them out from before you." Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad.
to chariot he arose,
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band.” Malone. 2 Extended Asia from Euphrătes ;] i. e. widened or extended the bounds of the Lesser Asia. Warburton.
To extend, is a term used for to seize; I know not whether this be not the sense here. Fohnson.
I believe Dr. Johnson's explanation is right. So, in elimus, Emperor of the Turks, 1594:
Ay, though on all the world we make extent,
“From the south pole unto the northern bear." Again, in Twelfth Night:
this uncivil and unjust extent “ Against thy peace.” Again, in Massinger's New Way to pay old Debts, the Extor
His conquering banner shook, from Syria
Ant. Antony, thou would'st say,
O, my lord!
“ This manor is extended to my use." Mr. Tollet has likewise no doubt but that Dr. Johnson's explanation is just ; " for (says he) Plutarch informs us that Labienus was by the Parthian King made general of his troops, and had over-run Asia from Euphrates and Syria to Lydia and Ionia.” To extend is a law term used for to seize lands and tenements. In support of his assertion he adds the following instance: “ Those wasteful companions had neither lands to extend nor goods to be seized.” Savile's translation of Tacitus, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. And then observes, that “ Shakspeare knew the legal signification of the term as appears from a passage in you
Like it :
“ Make an extent upon his house and lands." See Vol. V, p. 65, n. 6.
Our ancient English writers almost always give us Euphrătes instead of Euphrātes. Thus, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 21 :
“That gliding go in state, like swelling Euphrătes." See note on Cymbeline, Act III, sc. iii. Steevens.
3 When our quick winds lie still;] The sense is, that man, not agitated by censure, like soil not ventilated by quick winds, produces more evil than good. Fohnson.
An idea, somewhat similar, occurs also in The First Part of King Henry IV: “— the cankers of a calm world and a long peace.” Again, in The Puritan:“-hatched and nourished in the idle calms of peace.” Again, and yet more appositely, in King Henry VI, P. III:
“ For what doth cherish weeds, but gentle air ?" Dr. Warburton has proposed to read-minds. It is at least à conjecture that deserves to be mentioned.
Dr. Johnson, however, might, in some degree, have counte. nanced
his explanation by a singular epithet, that occurs twice in the Iliad-åverotpepes; literally, wind-nourished. In the first instance, L. XI, 256, it is applied to the tree of which a spear had been made ; in the second, L. XV, 625, to a wave, impelled upon a ship. Steevens.
Mess. At your noble pleasure.
I suspect that quick winds is, or is a corruption of, some provincial word, signifying either arable lands, or the instruments of husbandry used in tilling them. Earing signifies plowing, both here and in page 218. So, in Genesis, c. xlv: " Yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest." Blackstone.
This conjecture is well founded. The ridges left in lands turned up by the plough, that they may sweeten during their fallow state, are still called wind-rows. Quick winds, I suppose to be the same as teeming fallows; for such fallows are always fruitful in weeds.
Wind-rows likewise signify heaps of manure, consisting of dung or lime mixed up with virgin earth, and distributed in long rows under hedges. If these wind-rows are suffered to lie still, in two senses, the farmer must fare the worse for his want of activity. First, if this compost be not frequently turned over, it will bring forth weeds spontaneously; secondly, if it be suffered to continue where it is made, the fields receive no benefit from it, being fit only in their turn to produce a crop of useless and obnoxious her. bage. Steevens.
Mr. Steevens's description of wind-rows will gain him, I fear, but little reputation with the husbandman; nor, were it more accurate, does it appear to be in point, unless it can be shown that quick winds and wind-rows are synonymous; and, further, that his interpretation will suit with the context. Dr. Johnson hath considered the position as a general one, which indeed it is; but being made by Antony, and applied to himself, he, figuratively, is the idle soil ; the MALICE that speaks home, the quick, or cutting winds, whose frosty blasts destroy the profusion of weeds; whilst our ILLS (that is the truth faithfully) told us; a representation of our vices in their naked odiousness-is as our EARING; serves to plough up the neglected soil, and enable it to produce a pro
When the quick winds lie still, that is, in a mild winter, those weeds which “ the tyrannous breathings of the north” would have cut off, will continue to grow and seed, to the no small detriment of the crop to follow. Henley.
Whether my definition of winds or wind-rows be exact or erroneous, in justice to myself I must inform Mr. Henley, that I received it from an Essex farmer; observing, at the same time, that in different counties the same terms are differently applied.
Steevens. The words lie still are opposed to earing ; quick means preg". nant; and the sense of the passage is: “When our pregnant minds lie idle and untilled, they bring forth weeds ; but the telling us of our faults is a kind of culture to them.” The pronoun our before quick, shows that the substantive to which it refers must be something belonging to us, not merely an external ob. ject, as the wind is. To talk of quick winds lying still, is little bet ter than nonsense. M. Mason.