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We, ignorant of ourselves,
I shall do well:
Cæsar and Lepidus
Pom. Where have you this? 'tis false.
From Silvius, sir.
My power's a crescent, &c.] In old editions:
My powers are crescent, and my auguring hope
Says it will come to the full. What does the relative it belong to? It cannot in sense relate to hope, nor in concord to powers. The poet's allusion is to the moon; and Pompey would say, he is yet but a half moon, or crescent; but his hopes tell him, that crescent will come to a full orb.
Theobald. charms—] Old copy-the charms – The article is here omitted, on account of metre. Steevens.
thy wan'd lip!] In the old edition it is
thy wand lip! Perhaps, for fond lip, or warm lip, says Dr. Johnson. Wand, if it stand, is either a corruption of wan, the adjective, or a contraction of wanned, or made wan, a participle. So, in Hamlet:
That, from her working, all his visage wan’d.” Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Queen of Corinth:
“ Now you look wan and pale ; lips' ghosts you are.” Again, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida:
a cheek “ Not as yet wan’d.” Or perhaps waned lip, i. e. decreased, like the moon, in its beauty. So, in The Tragedy of Mariam, 1613:
“ And Cleopatra then to seek had been
“ So firm a lover of her wained face.” Again, in The Skynner's Play, among the Chester collection of Mysteries, MS. Harl. 1013, p. 152:
Let witchcraft join with beauty, lust with both!
" O blessed be thou ever and aye ;
“ Now wayned is all my woo. Yet this expression of Pompey's, perhaps, after all, implies a wish only, that every charm of love may confer additional softness on the lips of Cleopatra : i. e. that her beauty may improve to the ruin of her lover: or, as Mr. Ritson expresses the same idea, that “ her lip, which was become pale and dry with age, may recover the colour and softness of her sallad days.” The epithet wan might indeed have been added, only to show the speaker's private contempt of it. It may be remarked, that the lips of Africans and Asiaticks are paler than those of European nations.
Steevens. Shakspeare's orthography (or that of his ignorant publishers] often adds a d at the end of a word. Thus, vile is (in the old edi. tions) every where spelt vild. Laund is given instead of lawn: why not therefore wan'd for wan here?
If this however should not be accepted, suppose we read with the addition only of an apostrophe, wan’d; i. e. waned, declined, gone off from its perfection ; comparing Cleopatra's beauty to the moon past the full. Percy. 8 That sleep and feeding may prorogue his honour, Even till a Lethe'd dulness.] I suspect our author wrote:
That sleep and feeding may prorogue his hour, &c.
let not that part of nature,
“To expel sickness, but prolong his hour." The words honour and hour have been more than once confounded in these plays. What Pompey seems to wish is, that Antony should still remain with Cleopatra, totally forgetful of every other object.
“To prorogue his honour,” does not convey to me at least any precise notion. If, however, there be no corruption, I suppose Pompey means to wish, that sleep and feasting may prorogue to so distant a day all thoughts of fame and military achievement, that they may totally slide from Antony's mind. Malone.
Even till a Lethe'd dulness.] i. e. to a Lethe'd dulness. That till was sometimes used instead of to, may be ascertained from the following passage in Chapman's version of the eighteenth Iliad: “ They all ascended, two and two; and trod the honor'd
shore “ Till where the fleet of myrmidons, drawn up in heaps,
I could have given less matter
I cannot hope, 4
Again in Candlemas Day, 1512, p. 13:
“ Thu lurdeyn, take hed what I sey the tyll.” To prorogue his honour, &c. undoubtedly means, to delay his sense of honour from exerting itself till he is become habitually sluggish.
Steevens, since he went from Egypt, 'tis A space for further travel.) i. e. since he quitted Egypt, a space of time has elapsed in which a longer journey might have been performed than from Egypt to Rome.
Steevens. 1 I could have given &c.] I cannot help supposing, on account of the present irregularity of metre, that the name of Menas is an interpolation, and that the passage originally stood as follows: Pom.
I could have given
would have don'd his helm -] To don is to do on, to put on. So, in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, 1623 :
“ Call upon our dame aloud,
Egypt's widow --] Julius Cæsar had married her to young Ptolemy, who was afterwards drowned. Steevens.
4 I cannot hope, &c.] Mr. Tyrwhitt, the judicious editor of The Canterbury Tales, of Chaucer, in five vols. 8vo. 1775, &c. observes, that to hope, on this occasion, means to expect. So, in The Reve's Tale, v. 4027 :
“Our manciple I hope, he wol be ded.” Steevens.
warr'd upon him ;] The old copy has--wan'd. The emendation, which was made by the editor of the second folio, is supported by a passage in the next scene, in which Cæsar says to Antony: VOL. XIII.
Not mov'd by Antony.
I know not, Menas,
Rome. A Room in the House of Lepidus.
Enter ENOBARBUS and LEPIDUS.
I shall entreat him
your wife and brother “ Made wars upon me.
Malone. square – ] That is, quarrel. So, in The Shoemaker's Holiday, or the ge Craft, 1600: “What? square they, master Scott ?"
Sir, no doubt : “ Lovers are quickly in, and quickly out.” Steevens. See Vol II, p. 264, n. 3. Malone.
It only stands Our lives upon, &c.] i.e. to exert our utmost force, is the only consequential way of securing our lives, So, in King Richard III:
for it stands me much upon " To stop all hopes” &c. i. e. is of the utmost consequence to me. See Vol. XI, p. 129, n. 1. Steevens.
8 This play is not divided into Acts by the author or first edi. tors and therefore the present division may be altered at pleasure. I think the first Act may be commodiously continued to this place, and the second Act opened with the interview of the chief persons, and a change of the state of action. Yet it must be confessed, that it is of small importance, where these uncon. nected and desultory scenes are interrupted. Johnson.
Let Antony look over Cæsar's head,
'Tis not a time
Lep. But small to greater matters must give way.
Your speech is passion :
Enter ANTONY and VENTIDIUS.
And yonder, Cæsar.
I do not know,
'Tis spoken well:
9 Were I the wearer of Antonius' beard,
I would not shave to-day.] I believe he means, I would meet him undressed, without show of respect. Johnson.
Plutarch mentions that Antony, “after the overthrow he had at Modena, suffered his beard to grow at length, and never clipt it, that it was marvellous long." Perhaps this circumstance was in Shakspeare's thoughts. Malone.
1 If we compose well here,] i. e. if we come to a lucky composition, agreement. So afterwards:
“ I crave our composition may be written." i. e. the terms on which our differences are settled. Steevens.
2 Nor curstness grow to the matter.] Let not ill-humour be added to the real subject of our difference. Johnson.