Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Guard her till Cæsar come

[To PROCULEIUS and the Guard. Erit GALLUS.

vauntage and mercie, and to give his enemies cause to accuse the most courteous and noble prince that ever was, and to appeache him as though he were a cruel and mercilesse man, that were not to be trusted. So, even as he spake the word, he tooke her dagger from her, and shooke her clothes for feare of any poyson hidden about her." MALONE. 9 Gal. You see how easily she may be surpriz’d;

Guard her till Cæsar come.] [Mr. Rowe (and Mr. Pope followed him) allotted this speech to Charmian.] This blunder was for want of knowing, or observing, the historical fact. When Cæsar sent Proculeius to the queen, he sent Gallus after him with new instructions ; and while one amused Cleopatra with propositions from Cæsar, through the crannies of the monument, the other scaled it by a ladder, entered it at a window backward, and made Cleopatra, and those with her, prisoners. I have reformed the passage, therefore, (as, I am persuaded, the author designed it,) from the authority of Plutarch. [Mr. Theobald gives - You see how easily, &c. to Gallus ; and Guard her, &c. to Proculeius.]

THEOBALD. This line, in the first edition, is given to Proculeius; and to him it certainly belongs, though perhaps misplaced. I would put it at the end of his foregoing speech:

“ Where he for grace is kneel'd to.
[Aside to Gallus.] You see how easily she may be sur-

priz'd;" Then, while Cleopatra makes a formal answer, Gallus, upon the hint given, seizes her, and Proculeius, interrupting the civility of his answer:

“ your plight is pitied

Of him that caus'd it." cries out:

o Guard her till Cæsar come." JOHNSON. To this speech, as well as the preceding, Pro. [i. e. Proculeius] is prefixed in the old copy. It is clear, from the passage quoted from Plutarch in the preceding note, that this was an error of the compositor's at the press, and that it belongs to Gallus ; who, after Proculeius hath, according to his suggestion, ascended the monument, goes out to inform Cæsar that Cleopatra is taken. That Cæsar was informed immediately of Cleopatra's being taken, appears

from Dolabella's first speech to Proculeius on his entry. See p. 403 :

Proculeius,
“ What thou hast done, thy master Cæsar knows," &c.

Iras. Royal queen!
CHAR. O Cleopatra ! thou art taken, queen!-
Cleo. Quick, quick, good hands.

[Drawing a dagger. PRO.

Hold, worthy lady, hold :

[Seizes and disarms her.
Do not yourself such wrong, who are in this
Reliev'd, but not betray’d.
Cleo.

What, of death too
That rids our dogs of languish'?
Pro.

Cleopatra,
Do not abuse my master's bounty, by
The undoing of yourself: let the world see
His nobleness well acted, which your death
Will never let come forth.
Cleo.

Where art thou, death?
Come hither, come! come, come, and take a queen
Worth many babes and beggars ? !
PRO.

O, temperance, lady! Cleo. Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir; If idle talk will once be necessary, I'll not sleep neither ': This mortal house I'll ruin,

This information, it is to be presumed, Cæsar obtained from Gallus.

The stage-directions being very imperfect in this scene in the old copy, no exit is here marked; but as Gallus afterwards enters along with Cæsar, it was undoubtedly the author's intention that he should here go out.

In the modern editions, this, as well as the preceding speech, is given to Proculeius, though the error in the old copy clearly shows that two speakers were intended.

MALONE. 1- languish?] So, in Romeo and Juliet, Act I. Sc. II. : “One desperate grief cure with another's languish.

STEEVENS. 2 Worth many babes and beggars !] Why, death, wilt thou not rather seize a queen, than employ thy force upon babes and beggars? Johnson. 3 If idle Talk will once be necessary,

I'll not sleep neither :] “ I will not eat, and if it will be VOL. XII.

2 D

Do Cæsar what he can. Know, sir, that I
Will not wait pinion'd at your master's court;

necessary now for once to waste a moment in idle talk of my purpose, I will not sleep neither.In common conversation we often use will be, with as little relation to futurity. As, ** Now I am going, it will be fit for me to dine first.' Johnson.

Once may mean sometimes. Of this use of the word I have already given instances, both in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and King Henry VIII. The meaning of Cleopatra seems to be this : If idle talking be sometimes necessary to the prolongation of life, why I will not sleep for fear of talking idly in my sleep.

The sense designed, however, may be-If it be necessary, for once, to talk of performing impossibilities, why, I'll not sleep neither. I have little confidence, however, in these attempts, to produce a meaning from the words under consideration.

STEEVENS. The explications above given appear to me so unsatisfactory, and so little deducible from the words, that I have no doubt that a line has been lost after the word necessary, in which Cleopatra threatened to observe an obstinate silence. The line probably began with the word I'll, and the compositor's eye glancing on the same words in the line beneath, all that intervened was lost. See p. 289, and p. 388. So, in Othello, quarto, 1622, Act III. Sc. I. :

“ And needs no other suitor but his likings,
“ To take the safest occasion by the front,

“ To bring you in.” In the folio the second line is omitted, by the compositor's eye, after the first word of it was composed, glancing on the same word immediately under it in the subsequent line, and then proceeding with that line instead of the other. This happens frequently at the press. The omitted line in the passage, which has given rise to the present note, might have been of this import :

Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir ;
“ If idle talk will once be necessary,
I'll not so much as syllable a word ;

I'll not sleep neither : This mortal house I'll ruin,” &c. The words, “ I'll not sleep neither," contain a new and distinct

I once thought that Shakspeare might have writtenI'll not speak neither; but in p. 414, Cæsar comforting Cleopatra, says, “ feed, and sleep;

“ feed, and sleep ; ” which shows that sleep, in the passage

before us, is the true reading. Malone. I agree that a line is lost, which I shall attempt to supply :

menace.

Nor once be chastis'd with the sober eye
Of dull Octavia. Shall they hoist me up,
And show me to the shouting varletry
Of censuring Rome ? Rather a ditch in Egypt
Be gentle grave to me! rather on Nilus' mud
Lay me stark naked *, and let the water-flies
Blow me into abhorring ! rather make
My country's high pyramides my gibbet “,
And hang me up in chains !
PRO.

You do extend
These thoughts of horror further than you shall
Find cause in Cæsar.,

Enter DOLABELLA.
Dor.

Proculeius,
What thou hast done thy master Cæsar knows,
And he hath sent for thee : for the queen, ,
I'll take her to my guard.
PRO.

So, Dolabella,
It shall content me best: be gentle to her.

* First folio, nak'd.
" Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir ;
“ If idle talk will once be necessary,
[I will not speak; If sleep be necessary,]

“ I'll not sleep neither." The repetition of the word necessary may have occasioned the omission. Ritson.

4 My country's high PYRAMIDes my gibbet,] The poet designed we should read-pyramides, Lat. instead of pyramids, and so the folio reads. The verse will otherwise be defective. Thus, in Doctor Faustus, 1604 :

“ Besides the gates and high pyramides

“ That Julius Cæsar brought from Africa." Again, in Tamburlaine, 1590 :

“ Like to the shadows of pyramides." Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, b. xii. c. Ixxii. :

The theaters, pyramides, the hills of half a mile.” Mr. Tollet observes, that Sandys, in his Travels, as well as Drayton, in the 26th Song of his Polyolbion, uses pyramides as a quadrisyllable." STEEVENS.

s – As for -] This conjunction is wanting in the first, but is supplied by the second folio. STEEVENS.

To Cæsar I will speak what you shall please,

[To CLEOPATRA. If you'll employ me to him. CLEO.

Say, I would die. [Ereunt PROCULEIUS, and Soldiers. Dol. Most noble empress, you have heard of

me ? Cleo. I cannot tell. Dol.

Assuredly, you know me. CLEO. No matter, sir, what I have heard, or

known. You laugh, when boys, or women, tell their dreams; Is't not your trick ? Dol.

I understand not, madam. Cleo. I dream'd, there was an emperor An

tony ;-
O, such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man !
Dol.

If it might please you, Cleo. His face was as the heavens; and therein

stuck A suno, and moon; which kept their course, and

lighted The little O, the earth 7.

6

as the HEAVENS ; and therein stuck
A sun] So, in King Henry IV. Part II. :

it stuck upon him, as the sun
In the grey vault of heaven.” Steevens.
9 The little O, the earth.] Old copy-

“ The little o' the earth.
Dol. Most sovereign creature

!" What a blessed limping verse these hemistichs give us ! Had none of the editors an ear to find the hitch in its pace? There is but a syllable wanting, and that, I believe verily, was but of a single letter. I restore:

6. The little 0 o'th' earth.” i. e. the little orb or circle. Our poet, in other passages, chooses to express himself thus. TheoBALD.

When two words are repeated near to each other, printers very often omit one of them. The text however may well stand,

« VorigeDoorgaan »