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Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.
7 PACK'D CARDS with Cæsar, and FALSE PLAY'D my glory
Unto an enemy's TRIUMPH.] Shakspeare has here, as usual, taken his metaphor from a low trivial subject; but has enobled it with much art, by so contriving that the principal term in the subject from whence the metaphor was taken, should belong to, and suit the dignity of the subject to which the metaphor is transferred: thereby providing at once for the integrity of the figure, and the nobleness of the thought. And this by the word triumph, which either signifies Octavius's conquest, or what we now call, contractedly, the trump at cards, then called the triumph or the triumphing sort. WARBURTON.
This explanation is very just; the thought did not deserve so good an annotation. JOHNSON.
This use of the word triumph comes to us from the French, who at this day call the trump at cards, le triomphe. STEEVENS.
It is evident that Ben Jonson did not consider the word trump as derived from triumph, but from the French tromper, to deceive, as appears from the following passage in his New Inn:
"Yet all, sir, are not sons of the white hen;
"Out in the game, which all the world is." M. MASON. I believe Dr. Warburton here, as in many other places, saw more than his author meant. Shakspeare, I think, only intended to say, that Cleopatra, by collusion, played the great game they were engaged in falsely, so as to sacrifice Antony's fame to that of his enemy. The playing false to the adversary's trump card (as Dr. Warburton explains the words) conveys no distinct idea. The plain sense of the passage will appear from the following dialogue in Florio's Second Frutes, 1591: "S. What a shouffling do you keepe with those cardes?-A. I plaie fair playe, and shooffel them as I ought. S. Methinks you packe, and set them." MALONE.
Nay, weep not, gentle Eros; there is left us
She has robb'd me of my sword.
No, Antony; My mistress lov'd thee, and her fortunes mingled With thine entirely.
ANT. Hence, saucy eunuch; peace; She hath betray'd me, and shall die the death. MAR. Death of one person can be paid but once; And that she has discharg'd: What thou would'st
Is done unto thy hand; the last she spake
ANT. Unarm, Eros; the long day's task is done, And we must sleep:-That thou depart'st hence
safe, Does pay thy labour richly; Go.-Off, pluck off;— Exit MARDIAN. The seven-fold shield of Ajax cannot keep9 The battery from my heart'. O, cleave, my sides!
8 Eros, unarm;] Old copy, in defiance of metre-Unarm, Eros. STEEVENS.
See the Essay on Shakspeare's Versification. Boswell.
9 The SEVEN-FOLD SHIELD of Ajax cannot keep, &c.] This thought might have been taken from the Epistle prefixed to Wit's Commonwealth, 1598: "Which neyther a seaven-fold shielde, nor Pallas' Ægis can avoyde." STEEVENS.
I THE battery from my heart.] I would read:
"This battery from my heart." JOHNSON. "The battery from my heart" means, I apprehend, the battery proceeding from my heart, which is strong enough to break
Heart, once be stronger than thy continent 2,
I will o'ertake thee, Cleopatra, and
And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze : Dido and her Æneas shall want troops,
through the seven-fold shield of Ajax; I wish it were strong enough to cleave my sides and destroy me.' See the notes on Pray you, undo this button:" King Lear, vol. x. p. 286.
- thy continent,] i. e. the thing that contains thee. So, in Hamlet: "You shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see." STEEVENS.
3 All LENGTH is torture:] I strongly suspect that, instead of length, our author wrote-life. STEEVENS.
SEAL then, and all is done.] Metaphor taken from civil contracts, where, when all is agreed on, the sealing compleats the contract; so he hath determined to die, and nothing remained but to give the stroke. WARBURTON.
I believe the reading is:
seel then, and all is done.” To seel hawks, is to close their eyes. The meaning will be: 'Close thine eyes for ever, and be quiet.' JOHNSON. In a former scene we have:
the wise gods seel our eyes "In our own filth." MALONE.
The old reading is the true one. Thus, in King Henry V.:
"A testament of noble-ending love." STEEVENs.
5 Dido and her Æneas shall want troops,] Dr. Warburton has justly observed that the poet seems not to have known that Dido and Æneas were not likely to be found thus lovingly associated,
And all the haunt be ours.-Come, Eros, Eros!
EROS. What would my lord? ANT. Since Cleopatra died I have liv'd in such dishonour, that the gods Detest my baseness. I, that with my sword Quarter'd the world, and o'er green Neptune's back With ships made cities, condemn myself, to lack The courage of a woman; less noble mind Than she, which, by her death, our Cæsar tells,
"where souls do couch on flowers." He undoubtedly had read Phaer's translation of Virgil, but probably had forgot the celebrated description in the sixth book:
Talibus Æneas ardentem et torva tuentem
Dr. Warburton has also observed that Shakspeare most probably wrote-Sichæus. At least, I believe, he intended to have written so, on the strength of the passage immediately following the lines already quoted:
conjux ubi pristinus illi
Respondet curis, æquatque Sichæus amorem.
Thus rendered by Phaer, edit. 1558 :
where ioynt with her, her husband old,
Sycheus doth complayne, and equall loue with her doth holde."
But Eneas being the more familiar name of the two, our author inadvertently substituted the one for the other.
condemn myself, to LACK
The courage of a woman; LESS noble MIND
Than she,] Antony is here made to say, that he is destitute of even the courage of a woman, that he is destitute of a less noble mind than Cleopatra. But he means to assert the very contrary that he must acknowledge he has a less noble mind than she. I therefore formerly supposed that Shakspeare might have written :
condemn myself to lack
"The courage of a woman; less noble-minded
But a more intimate acquaintance with his writings has shown
I am conqueror of myself. Thou art sworn, Eros, That, when the exigent should come, (which now
me that he had some peculiar inaccuracies, which it is very idle to endeavour to amend. For these the poet, not his editor, must answer. We have the same inaccurate phraseology in The Winter's Tale :
I ne'er heard yet,
"That any of these bolder vices wanted
"Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Again, in Macbeth:
"Who cannot want the thought, how monsterous
Again, in King Lear, Act II. Sc. IV.:
I have hope,
"You less know how to value her desert,
See vol. xi. p. 85; Winter's Tale, Act I. Sc. II. and Act III. Sc. II.
The passage in North's translation of Plutarch, which Shakspeare has here copied, shows that, however inaccurate, the text is not corrupt: "When he had sayd these words, he went into a chamber, and unarmed himselfe, and being naked say'd thus: O Cleopatra, it grieveth me not that I have lost thy companie, for I will not be long from thee; but I am sorrie that having been so great a captaine and emperour, I am indeede condemned to be judged of lesse corage and noble MINDE than a woman." Instead of" to be judged of less," which applies equally well to courage, and to mind, Shakspeare substituted the word lack, which is applicable to courage, but cannot without a solecism be connected with less noble mind." MALONE.
"Condemn myself to lack," &c. however licentiously, may have been employed to signify-condemn myself for lacking even the courage of a woman.'
To mind, in this instance, may be a verb, signifying to intend, incline, or be disposed. So, in Spenser's State of Ireland: "When one of them mindeth to go into rebellion, he will convey away all his lordships," &c.
Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad :
As for me; be sure, I mind no harme
"To thy grave person."
Again, in the Third Part of our author's King Henry VI. :
"But if you mind to hold your true obedience-."