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To Cæsar I will speak what you shall please, [TO CLEOPATRA.
If you'll employ me to him.
Say, I would die. [Exeunt PROCULEIUS, and Soldiers. DOL. Most noble empress, you have heard of me? CLEO. I cannot tell.
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?
I understand not, madam. CLEO. I dream'd, there was an emperor Antony ;
O, such another sleep, that I might see
If it might please you,—
CLEO. His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck
A sun, and moon; which kept their course, and lighted The little O, the earth."
-as the heavens; and therein stuck A sun,] So, in King Henry IV. P. II: 66 -it stuck upon him, as the sun "In the grey vault of heaven."
7 The little O, the earth.] Old copyThe 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:
Most sovereign creature,
CLEO. His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm Crested the world: his voice was propertied As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;' But when he meant to quail and shake the orb, He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty, There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas, That grew the more by reaping :2 His delights
The little O 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. Shakspeare frequently uses O for an orb or circle. So, in King Henry V:
can we cram
"Within this wooden O the very casques," &c. Again, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream:
"Than all yon fiery oes, and eyes of light." MALONE.
His legs bestrid the ocean: &c.] So, in Julius Cæsar:
his rear'd arm Crested the world:] Alluding to some of the old crests in heraldry, where a raised arm on a wreath was mounted on the helmet. PERCY.
and that to friends;] Thus the old copy. The modern editors read, with no less obscurity:
-when that to friends. STEEVEns.
For his bounty,
There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas,
There was certainly a contrast both in the thought and terms, designed here, which is lost in an accidental corruption. How could an Antony grow the more by reaping? I'll venture, by a very easy change, to restore an exquisite fine allusion; which carries its reason with it too, why there is no winter in his bounty:
Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
As plates dropp'd from his pocket.
For his bounty,
There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas,
I ought to take notice, that the ingenious Dr. Thirlby likewise started this very emendation, and had marked it in the margin of his book. THEOBALD.
The following lines in Shakspeare's 53d Sonnet add support to the emendation:
Speak of the spring, and foison of the year, "The one doth shadow of your bounty show; "The other as your bounty doth appear,
"And you in every blessed shape we know." By the other, in the third line, i. e. the foison of the year, the poet means autumn, the season of plenty.
Again, in The Tempest:
"How does my bounteous sister [Ceres]?" MALOne. His delights
Were dolphin-like; &c.] This image occurs in a short poem inserted in T. Lodge's Life and Death of William Longbeard, the most famous and witty English Traitor, &c. 1593, 4to. bl. 1:
"Oh faire of fairest, Dolphin-like,
"Within the rivers of my plaint," &c. STEEVENS.
As plates-] Plates mean, I believe, silver money. So, in Marlow's Jew of Malta, 1633:
"What's the price of this slave 200 crowns?
"Rat'st thou this Moor but at 200 plates?" STeevens. Mr. Steevens justly interprets plates to mean silver money. It is a term in heraldry. The balls or roundels in an escutcheon of arms, according to their different colours, have different names. If gules, or red, they are called torteauxes; if or, or yellow, bezants; if argent, or white, plates, which are buttons of silver without any impression, but only prepared for the stamp.
CLEO. Think you,
As this I dream'd of?
Gentle madam, no.
CLEO. You lie, up to the hearing of the gods.
Hear me, good madam:
By the rebound of yours, a grief that shoots
there was, or might be, such
So Spenser, Fairy Queen, B. II. c. vii. st. 5:
"Some others were new driven, and distent
or ever were one such,] The old copy has-nor ever, &c. The emendation was made by Mr. Rowe. MALONE.
To vie strange forms-] To vie was a term at cards. See Vol. VIII. p. 369, n. 9; and Vol. IX. p. 89, n. 1. STEEVENS.
-yet, to imagine
An Antony, were nature's piece 'gainst fancy,
Condemning shadows quite.] The word piece, is a term appropriated to works of art. Here Nature and Fancy produce each their piece, and the piece done by Nature had the preference. Antony was in reality past the size of dreaming; he was more by Nature than Fancy could present in sleep.
-shoots-] The old copy reads-suites. STEEVENS.
I thank you, sir.
CLEO. Know you, what Cæsar means to do with me? DOL. I am loath to tell you what I would you knew.
CLEO. Nay, pray you, sir,—
CLEO. He'll lead me then in triumph?
Though he be honourable,
I know it.
WITHIN. Make way there,-Cæsar.
Enter CESAR, GALLUS, PROCULEIUS, MECENAS, SELEUCUS, and Attendants.
Which is the queen
Madam, he will;
'Tis the emperor, madam.
You shall not kneel:
pray you, rise; rise, Egypt.
[CLEOPATRA kneels. Arise,
Sir, the gods
Will have it thus; my master and my lord
CES. Take to you no hard thoughts: The record of what injuries you did us, Though written in our flesh, we shall remember As things but done by chance.
Sole sir o'the world,
The correction was made by Mr. Pope. The error arose from the two words, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, being pronounced alike. See Vol. VII. p. 80, n. 7. MALONE.