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ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
ACT I. SCENE I
Alexandria. A Room in CLEOPATRA's Palace.
Enter DEMETRIUS and PHILO.
PHI. Nay, but this dotage of our general's', O'erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes, That o'er the files and musters of the war Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn, The office and devotion of their view Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges 2 all temper;
of our general's,] It has already been observed that this phraseology (not, of our general,) was the common phraseology of Shakspeare's time.
So, in King John, Act II. Sc. I. :
“With them a bastard of the king's deceased." MALONE. reneges -] Renounces. Pope.
So, in King Lear: "Renege, affirm," &c. This word is likewise used by Stanyhurst, in his version of the second book of Virgil's Æneid:
"To live now longer, Troy burnt, he flatly reneageth.” STEEVENS.
The metre would be improved, if, by a slight alteration, we were to read reneyes; a word derived from the old French, meaning to renounce it is to be found in Chaucer :
What shuld us tiden of this newe lawe
'But thraldom to our bodies and penance,
Again, in the same tale :
Man of Lawes Tale, v. 4757.
And is become the bellows, and the fan,
Enter ANTONY and CLEOPATRA, with their Trains; Eunuchs fanning her. Take but good note, and you shall see in him The triple pillar of the world transform'd
"She rideth to the Soudan on a day,
"And say'd him, that she would reneie her lay."
3 And is become the bellows, and the fan,
To cool a gipsy's lust.] In this passage something seems to be wanting. The bellows and fan being commonly used for contrary purposes, were probably opposed by the author, who might perhaps have written:
is become the bellows and the fan,
"To kindle and to cool a gypsy's lust." JOHNSON. In Lyly's Midas, 1592, the bellows is used both to cool and to kindle: "Methinks Venus and Nature stand with each of them a pair of bellows, one cooling my low birth, the other kindling my lofty affections." STEEVENS.
The text is undoubtedly right. The bellows, as well as the fan, cools the air by ventilation; and Shakspeare considered it here merely as an instrument of wind, without attending to the domestick use to which it is commonly applied. We meet with a similar phraseology in his Venus and Adonis :
"Then, with her windy sighs, and golden hairs,
The following lines in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. ii. c. ix. at once support and explain the text:
"But to delay the heat, lest by mischaunce
"It might breake out, and set the whole on fyre,
"A huge great payre of bellowes, which did styre "Continually, and cooling breath inspyre." MALONE. Johnson's amendment is unnecessary, and his reasons for it ill founded. The bellows and the fan have the same effects. When applied to a fire, they increase it; but when applied to any other warm substance, they cool it. M. MASON.
"-gipsy's lust." Gipsy is here used both in the original meaning for an Ægyptian, and in its accidental sense for a bad woman. JOHNSON.
4 The TRIPLE pillar-] third, or one of three. masters of the world.
Triple is here used improperly for One of the triumvirs, one of the three WARBURTON.
Into a strumpet's fool: behold and see.
CLEO. If it be love indeed, tell me how much. ANT. There's beggary in the love that can be reckon❜d".
CLEO. I'll set a bourn how far to be belov'd. ANT. Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth".
Enter an Attendant.
Arr. News, my good lord, from Rome.
So, in All's Well That Ends Well:
Which, as the dearest issue of his practice,
"He bade me store up as a triple eye." MALONE.
To sustain the pillars of the earth is a scriptural phrase. Thus, in Psalm 75: "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved. I bear up the pillars of it." STEEVENS.
5 There's BEGGARY in the love that can be reckon'd.] So, in Romeo and Juliet :
They are but beggars that can count their worth."
Mart. 1. vi. ep. 36. Again, in the 13th book of Ovid's Metamorphosis; as translated by Golding, p. 172:
Pauperis est numerare pecus.
"Tush! beggars of their cattel use the number for to know."
Again, in Much Ado About Nothing:
"I were but little happy, If I could say how much."
So, in The Winter's Tale :
one that fixes
"No bourn 'twixt his and mine."
Bound or limit. POPE.
7 Then must thou needs find out new heaven, &c.] Thou must set the boundary of my love at a greater distance than the present visible universe affords. JOHNSON.
8 -The sum.] Be brief, sum thy business in a few words.
9 Nay, hear THEM,] i. e. the news. This word, in Shakspeare's time, was considered as plural. So, in Plutarch's Life of Antony: "Antonius hearing these newes," &c. MALONE.
Fulvia, perchance, is angry; Or, who knows
Call in the messengers.-As I am Egypt's queen,
When shrill-tongu'd Fulvia scolds.-The messen
ANT. Let Rome in Tyber melt! and the wide arch
Of the rang'd empire fall! Here is my space;
Take in, &c.] i. e. subdue, conquer. REED.
• Where's Fulvia's PROCESS?] Process here means summons. M. MASON.
"The writings of our common lawyers sometimes call that the processe, by which a man is called into the court and no more." Minsheu's Dict. in v. Processe.-" To serve with processe. Vide to cite, to summon." Ibid. MALOne.
3 - and the wide arch
Of the RANG'D empire fall!] Taken from the Roman custom of raising triumphal arches to perpetuate their victories. Extremely noble. WARBURTON.
I am in doubt whether Shakspeare had any idea but of a fabrick standing on pillars. The later editions have all printed the raised empire, for the ranged empire, as it was first given.
The rang'd empire is certainly right. Shakspeare uses the same expression in Coriolanus:
bury all which yet distinctly ranges, "In heaps and piles of ruin."
Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike
And such a twain can do't, in which, I bind
Excellent falshood! Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her ?— I'll seem the fool I am not; Antony
Will be himself.
Again, in Much Ado About Nothing, Act II. Sc. II.: "Whatsoever comes athwart his affection, ranges evenly with mine."
The term range seems to have been applied, in a peculiar sense, to mason-work, in our author's time. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. ii. c. ix. :
It was a vault y-built for great dispence,
"With many raunges rear'd along the wall." MALONE. What, in ancient masons' or bricklayers' work, was denominated a range, is now called a course. STEEVENS.
to weet,] To know.
Will be himself.
But stirr'd by Cleopatra.] But, in this passage, seems to have the old Saxon signification of without, unless, except. Antony, (says the queen,) will recollect his thoughts. Unless kept, (he replies,) in commotion by Cleopatra."
What could Cleopatra mean by saying Antony will recollect his thoughts? What thoughts were they, for the recollection of which she was to applaud him ? It was not for her purpose that he should think, or rouse himself from the lethargy in which she wished to keep him. By "Antony will be himself," she means to say, 'that Antony will act like the joint sovereign of the world, and follow his own inclinations, without regard to the mandates of Cæsar, or the anger of Fulvia." To which he replies, "If but stirr'd by Cleopatra; " that is, if moved to it in the slightest degree by her. M. MASON.
Now, for the love of Love, and HER soft hours,]