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No, sweet Octavia, the time shall not
Come, sir, come;
Adieu; be happy!
CES. LEP. Let all the number of the stars give light To thy fair way!
Farewell, farewell! [Kisses OCTAVIA.
Farewell! [Trumpets sound. Exeunt.
Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and
CLEO. Where is the fellow?
I am afraid there was better sense in this passage as it originally stood, than Mr. Theobald's alteration will afford us. Believe it, (says Enobarbus,) that Antony did so, i. e. that he wept over such an event, till you see me weeping on the same occasion, when I shall be obliged to you for putting such a construction on my tears, which, in reality, (like his) will be tears of joy. I have replaced the old reading. Mr. Theobald reads-till I wept too. Steevens.
I should certainly adopt Theobald's amendment, the meaning of which is, that Antony wailed the death of Brutus so bitterly, that I [Enobarbus] was affected by it, and wept also.
Mr. Steevens's explanation of the present reading is so forced, that I cannot clearly comprehend it. M. MASON.
Half afeard to come.
CLEO. Go to, go to:-Come hither, sir.
Enter a Messenger.
CLEO. That Herod's head I'll have: But how? when Antony is gone Through whom I might command it.-Come thou
MESS. Most gracious majesty,
Ay, dread queen.
Didst thou behold
I look'd her in the face; and saw her led
CLEO. Is she as tall as me?+
Madam, in Rome
She is not, madam.
Is she as tall as me? &c. &c. &c.] This scene (says Dr. Grey) is a manifest allusion to the questions put by Queen Elizabeth to Sir James Melvil, concerning his mistress the Queen of Scots. Whoever will give himself the trouble to consult his Memoirs, may probably suppose the resemblance to be more than accidental. STEEVENS.
I see no probability that Shakspeare should here allude to a conversation that passed between Queen Elizabeth and a Scottish ambassador in 1564, the very year in which he was born, and does not appear to have been made publick for above threescore years after his death; Melvil's Memoirs not being printed till 1683. Such enquiries, no doubt, are perfectly natural to rival females, whether queens or cinder-wenches. RITSON,
CLEO. Didst hear her speak? Is she shrilltongu❜d, or low?
MESS. Madam, I heard her speak; she is lowvoic'd.
CLEO. That's not so good:-he cannot like her long.5
CHAR. Like her? O Isis! 'tis impossible.
CLEO. I think so, Charmian: Dull of tongue, and dwarfish!
What majesty is in her gait? Remember,
That's not so good:-he cannot like her long.] Cleopatra perhaps does not mean-" That is not so good a piece of intelligence as your last;" but, "That, i. e. a low voice, is not so good as a shrill tongue."
That a low voice (on which our author never omits to introduce an eulogium when he has an opportunity) was not esteemed by Cleopatra as merit in a lady, appears from what she adds afterwards," Dull of tongue, and dwarfish!" If the words be understood in the sense first mentioned, the latter part of the line will be found inconsistent with the foregoing.
Perhaps, however, the author intended no connection between the two members of this line; and that Cleopatra, after a pause, should exclaim — He cannot like her, whatever her merits be, for any length of time. My first interpretation I believe to be the true one.
It has been justly observed that the poet had probably Queen Elizabeth here in his thoughts. The description given of her by a contemporary, about twelve years after her death, strongly confirms this supposition. "She was (says the Continuator of Stowe's Chronicle) tall of stature, strong in every limb and joynt, her fingers small and long, her voyce loud and shrill."
It may be remarked, however, that when Cleopatra applies the epithet "shrill-tongued" to Fulvia, (see p. 9,) it is not introduced by way of compliment to the wife of Antony.
The quality of the voice is referred to, as a criterion similar to that, already noticed, of the hair. See p. 109, n. 1. HENLEY.
Her motion and her station are as one :
MESS. Or I have no observance.
Cannot make better note.
Is this certain ?
Three in Egypt
He's very knowing,
I do perceiv't:-There's nothing in her yet:-
She was a widow.
CLEO. Guess at her years, I pr'ythee.
Widow ?-Charmian, hark."
MESS. And I do think, she's thirty.
CLEO. Bear'st thou her face in mind? is it long, or round?
MESS. Round even to faultiness.
CLEO. For the most part too, They are foolish that are so.8-Her hair, what colour?
her station -] Station, in this instance, means the act of standing. So, in Hamlet:
A station like the herald Mercury." STEEVENS.
7 Widow ?-Charmian, hark.] Cleopatra rejoices in this circumstance, as it sets Octavia on a level with herself, who was no virgin, when she fell to the lot of Antony. STEEVENS.
• Round &c.
They are foolish that are so.] This is from the old writers on physiognomy. So, in Hill's Pleasant History, &c. 1613: "The head very round, to be forgetful and foolish." Again: "the head long to be prudent and wary."" a low forehead,” &c. p. 218. STEEVENS.
MESS. Brown, madam: And her forehead is as low As she would wish it.
CLEO. There is gold for thee. Thou must not take my former sharpness ill:I will employ thee back again; I find thee Most fit for business: Go, make thee ready; Our letters are prepar'd. [Exit Messenger. A proper man.
CHAR. CLEO. Indeed, he is so: I repent me much, That so I harry'd him.' Why, methinks, by him, This creature's no such thing.
— is as low &c.] For the insertion of-is, to help the metre, I am answerable. STEEVENS.
As low as she would wish it.] Low foreheads were, in Shakspeare's age, thought a blemish. So, in The Tempest: with foreheads villainous low."
See also Vol. IV. p. 146, n. 2.
You and She are not likely to have been confounded; otherwise we might suppose that our author wrote
As low as you would wish it. MALONE.
The phrase employed by the Messenger is still a cant one. I once overheard a chambermaid say of her rival,—“ that her legs were as thick as she could wish them." STEEVENS.
so I harry'd him.] To harry, is to use roughly, harass, subdue. So, in the Chester Whitsun-Playes, MS. Harl. 2013, the Cookes' Company are appointed to exhibit the 17th pageant
"the harrowinge of helle."
The same word occurs also in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1607: "He harried her, and midst a throng," &c.
Again, in The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601: "Will harry me about instead of her."
Holinshed, p. 735, speaking of the body of Richard III. says, it was" harried on horseback, dead.”
The same expression had been used by Harding, in his Chronicle. Again, by Nash, in his Lenten Stuff, 1599: "—as if he were harrying and chasing his enemies." "STEEvens.
To harry, is, literally, to hunt. Hence the word harrier. King James threatened the Puritans that "he would harry them out of the land." HENLEY.