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Enter ANTONY, borne by the Guard.
O thou sun, Burn the great sphere thou mov'st in !—darkling' stand
The varying shore o'the world!2-O Antony!
darkling-] i. e. without light. So, in The Two angry Women of Abington, 1599:
my mother hath a torch, your wife
Burn the great sphere thou mov'st in!—darkling stand The varying shore o'the world!] Thou is wanting in the old copy, and was supplied by Mr. Pope, whose reading may be justified on the authority of a similar passage in Timon of Athens: "Thou sun, that comfort'st, burn!" STEEVENS.
She desires the sun to burn his own orb, the vehicle of light, and then the earth will be dark. JOHNSON.
The varying shore o'the world! i. e. of the earth, where light and darkness make an incessant variation. WARBURTON.
According to the philosophy which prevailed from the age of Aristotle to that of Shakspeare, and long since, the sun was a planet, and was whirled round the earth by the motion of a solid sphere in which it was fixed.-If the sun therefore was to set fire to the sphere, so as to consume it, the consequence must be, that itself, for want of support, must drop through, and wander in endless space; and in this case the earth would be involved in endless night. HEATH.
Charmian, help; &c.] Old copy
"The varring shore o' th' world. O Antony, Antony, Antony,
"Helpe Charmian, helpe Iras helpe: helpe friends
For the sake of somewhat like metre, one word has been omitted and others transposed. STEEVENS.
Not Cæsar's valour hath o'erthrown Antony,
CLEO. So it should be, that none but Antony Should conquer Antony; but woe 'tis so!
ANT. I am dying, Egypt, dying; only
Egypt, dying:] Perhaps this line was originally completed by a further repetition of the participle; and stood thus: am dying, Egypt, dying, dying; only &c.
'I here impórtune death &c.] I solicit death to delay; or, I trouble death by keeping him in waiting. JOHNSON.
6 Cleo. I dare not, dear,
(Dear my lord, pardon,) I dare not,
Lest I be taken:] Antony is supposed to be at the foot of the monument, and tells Cleopatra that he there importunes death, till he can lay his last kiss upon her lips, which was intimating to her his desire that she should come to him for that purpose. She considers it in that light, and tells him that she dares not.
Antony has just said that he only solicits death to delay his end, till he has given her a farewell kiss. To this she replies that she dares not; and, in our author's licentious diction, she may mean, that she, now above in the monument, does not dare to descend that he may take leave of her. But, from the defect of the metre in the second line, I think it more probable that a word was omitted by the compositor, and that the poet wrote:
I dare not, dear,
(Dear my lord, pardon,) I dare not descend,
Mr. Theobald amends the passage differently, by adding to the end of Antony's speech-Come down. MALONE.
Theobald's insertion seems misplaced, and should be made at the end of the next line but one. I would therefore read:
Of the full-fortun'd Cæsar" ever shall
Be brooch'd with me; if knife, drugs, serpents,
Edge, sting, or operation," I am safe:
I lay upon thy lips.
I dare not, dear,
(Dear my lord, pardon,) I dare not come down.
Of the full-fortun'd Cæsar-] So, in Othello:
Be brooch'd with me;] Be brooch'd, i. e. adorn'd. A brooch was an ornament formerly worn in the hat. So, in Ben Jonson's Poetaster: "Honour's a good brooch to wear in a man's hat at all times." Again, in his Staple of News:
"The very brooch o' the bench, gem of the city." Again, in The Magnetick Lady:
The brooch to any true state cap in Europe."
The Rev. Mr. Lambe observes, in his notes on the ancient metrical History of Floddon Field, that brooches, in the North, are buckles set with stones, such as those with which shirtbosoms and handkerchiefs are clasped. STEEVENS.
Be brooch'd with me;
Brooch is properly a bodkin, or some such instrument, (originally a spit,) and ladies' bodkins being headed with gems, it sometimes stands for an ornamental trinket or jewel in general, in which sense it is perhaps used at present; or as probably in its original one, for pinned up, as we now say pin up the basket, brooch'd with me, i. e. pinned up, completed with having me to adorn his triumph. PERCY.
A brooch is always an ornament; whether a buckle or pin for the breast, hat, or hair, or whatever other shape it may assume. A broach is a spit: the spires of churches are likewise so called in the northern counties, as Darnton broach. Brooch'd, in the text, certainly means adorn'd, as it has been properly explained by Mr. Steevens. RITSON.
9- if knife, drugs, serpents, have
Edge, sting, or operation,] Here is the same irregular position of the words, that Mr. Warner would avoid or amend in Hamlet; and yet Shakspeare seems to have attended to this matter in the very play before us, Act III. sc. ii. TOLLET.
And still conclusion,' shall acquire no honour Demuring upon me.-But come, come, Antony,Help me, my women,-we must draw thee up ;Assist, good friends.
O, quick, or I am gone.
CLEO. Here's sport, indeed!2-How heavy weighs
Our strength is all gone into heaviness,3
This thought occurs in Queen Elizabeth's Entertainment in Suffolke and Norfolke, by Churchyard, no date, 4to. where Beautie says
"If he do dye, by mightie Jove I sweare "I will not live, if sword or knife be found" &c. Again, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre:
still conclusion,] Sedate determination; silent coolness of resolution. JOHNSON.
"If fires be hot, knives sharp, or waters deep,
Here's sport, indeed!] I suppose the meaning of these strange words is, here's trifling, you do not work in earnest.
Perhaps, rather, here's a curious game, the last we shall ever play with Antony! Or, perhaps, she is thinking of fishing with a line, a diversion of which we have been already told she was fond. Shakspeare has introduced ludicrous ideas with as much incongruity in other places. other places. Malone.
Cleopatra, perhaps, by this affected levity, this phrase which has no determined signification, only wishes to inspire Antony with cheerfulness, and encourage those who are engaged in the melancholy task of drawing him up into the monument.
-into heaviness,] Heaviness is here used equivocally for sorrow and weight. MALONE.
And welcome, welcome! die, where thou hast liv'd: Quicken with kissing;5 had my lips that power, Thus would I wear them out.
A heavy sight!
ANT. I am dying, Egypt, dying:
CLEO. No, let me speak; and let me rail so high, That the false housewife Fortune' break her wheel, Provok'd by my offence.
One word, sweet queen: Of Cæsar seek your honour, with your safety.-O! CLEO. They do not go together.
ANT. Gentle, hear me : None about Cæsar trust, but Proculeius. CLEO. My resolution, and my hands, I'll trust; None about Cæsar.
where thou hast liv'd:] Old copy-when thou &c. Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
• Quicken with kissing;] That is, Revive by my kiss.
So, in Heywood's Royal King, 1637:
"And quickens most where he would most destroy." STEEVENS.
• Give me some wine, &c.] This circumstance, like almost every other, Shakspeare adopted from Plutarch. Sir Thomas North, in his translation, says " Antony made her cease from lamenting, and called for wine, either because he was athirst, or else for that thereby to hasten his death. When he had dronke, he earnestly prayed her, and persuaded that she would seeke to save her life, if she could possible, without reproache and dishonour: and that she should chiefly trust Proculeius above any man else about Cæsar." STEEVENS.
7-housewife Fortune-] This despicable line has occurred before. JOHNSON.
See As like it, Vol. VIII. you "Let us sit, and 16, n. 8: mock the good housewife Fortune from her wheel," &c.