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So Antony loves.*


My precious queen, forbear; And give true evidence to his love, which stands An honourable trial.


So Fulvia told me.

I pr'ythee, turn aside, and weep for her;
Then bid adieu to me, and say, the tears
Belong to Egypt:5 Good now, play one scene
Of excellent dissembling; and let it look
Like perfect honour.


You'll heat my blood; no more.

CLEO. You can do better yet; but this is meetly.

ANT. Now, by my sword,—


And target,-Still he mends ;

But this is not the best: Look, pr'ythee, Charmian, How this Herculean Roman" does become

The carriage of his chafe.


I'll leave you, lady.

CLEO. Courteous lord, one word.

Sir, you and I must part,-but that's not it:

* So Antony loves.] i. e. uncertain as the state of my health is the love of Antony. STEEVens.

I believe Mr. Steevens is right; yet before I read his note, I thought the meaning to be," My fears quickly render me ill; and I am as quickly well again, when I am convinced that Antony has an affection for me." So, for so that. If this be the true sense of the passage, it ought to be regulated thus: I am quickly ill,—and well again,

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So Antony loves.

Thus, in a subsequent scene:

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I would, thou didst ;

"So half my Egypt were submerg'd." MALONE.

to Egypt:] To me, the Queen of Egypt. JOHNSON. Herculean Roman-] Antony traced his descent from Anton, a son of Hercules. STEEVENS.

Sir, you and I have lov'd,-but there's not it; That you know well: Something it is I would,— O, my oblivion is a very Antony,

And I am all forgotten."


But that your royalty

Holds idleness your subject, I should take you
For idleness itself.8

7 0, my oblivion is a very Antony,

And I am all forgotten.] Cleopatra has something to say, which seems to be suppressed by sorrow; and after many attempts to produce her meaning, she cries out: O, this oblivious memory of mine is as false and treacherous to me as Antony is, and I forget every thing. Oblivion, I believe, is boldly used for a memory apt to be deceitful.

If too much latitude be taken in this explanation, we might with little violence read, as Mr. Edwards has proposed in his MS. notes:

Oh me! oblivion is a very Antony, &c. STEEVENS. Perhaps nothing more is necessary here than a change of punctuation; O my! being still an exclamation frequently used in the West of England. HENLey.

Oh my! in the provincial sense of it, is only an imperfect exclamation of-Oh my God! The decent exclaimer always stops before the sacred name is pronounced. Could such an exclamation therefore have been uttered by the Pagan Cleopatra ? STEEVENS.


The sense of the passage appears to me to be this: " O, my oblivion, as if it were another Antony, possesses me so entirely, that I quite forget myself." M. MASON.

I have not the smallest doubt that Mr. Steevens's explanation of this passage is just. Dr. Johnson says, that "it was her memory, not her oblivion, that like Antony, was forgetting and deserting her." It certainly was; it was her oblivious memory, as Mr. Steevens has well interpreted it: and the licence is much in our author's manner. MALONE.

• But that your royalty

Holds idleness your subject, I should take you

For idleness itself.] i. e. But that your charms hold me, who am the greatest fool on earth, in chains, I should have adjudged you to be the greatest. That this is the sense is shown by her answer:


'Tis sweating labour,

To bear such idleness so near the heart

As Cleopatra this. But, sir, forgive me;
Since my becomings kill me,' when they do not
Eye well to you: Your honour calls you hence;
Therefore be deaf to my unpitied folly,

And all the gods go with you! upon your sword
Sit laurel'd victory!' and smooth success

Be strew'd before

your feet!

'Tis sweating labour,

To bear such idleness so near the heart
As Cleopatra this.- WARBURton.

The sense

Dr. Warburton's explanation is a very coarse one. may be :-But that your queenship chooses idleness for the subject of your conversation, I should take you for idleness itself. So Webster, (who was often a close imitator of Shakspeare,) in his Vittoria Corombona, 1612:


how idle am I

"To question my own idleness!"

Or an antithesis may be designed between royalty and subject. But that I know you to be a queen, and that your royalty holds idleness in subjection to you, exalting you far above its influence, I should suppose you to be the very genius of idleness itself. STEEVENS.

Mr. Steevens's latter interpretation is, I think, nearer the truth. But perhaps your subject rather means, whom being in subjection to you, you can command at pleasure, "to do your bidding," to assume the airs of coquetry, &c. Were not this coquet one of your attendants, I should suppose you yourself were this capricious being. MALONE.

9 Since my becomings kill me.] There is somewhat of obscurity in this expression. In the first scene of the play Antony

had called her


wrangling queen,

"Whom every thing becomes."

It is to this, perhaps, that she alludes. Or she may meanThat conduct which, in my own opinion, becomes me, as often as it appears ungraceful to you, is a shock to my sensibility.


laurel'd victory!] Thus the second folio. The inaccurate predecessor of it-laurel victory. STEEVENS,



Let us go. Come;

Our separation so abides, and flies,
That thou, residing here, go'st yet with me,
And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee.



Rome. An Apartment in Cæsar's House.

Enter OCTAVIUS CESAR, LEPIDUS, and Attendants.

CES. You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know,

It is not Cæsar's natural vice to hate

One great competitor: From Alexandria
This is the news; He fishes, drinks, and wastes

* That thou, residing here, &c.] This conceit might have been suggested by the following passage in Sidney's Arcadia, Book I:

"She went they staid; or, rightly for to say,

"She staid with them, they went in thought with her." Thus also, in The Mercator of Plautus: "Si domi sum, foris est animus; sin foris sum, animus domi est." STEEVENS.

One great competitor :] Perhaps-Our great competitor.

Johnson is certainly right in his conjecture that we ought to read-"Our great competitor," as this speech is addressed to Lepidus, his partner in the empire. Competitor means here, as it does wherever the word occurs in Shakspeare, associate or partner. So Menas says:

"These three world-sharers, these competitors,
"Are in thy vessel."

And again, Cæsar, speaking of Antony, says-
"That thou, my brother, my competitor,
"In top of all design, my mate in empire."


The lamps of night in revel: is not more manlike Than Cleopatra; nor the queen Ptolemy

More womanly than he hardly gave audience, or Vouchsaf'd to think he had partners: You shall find there

A man, who is the abstract of all faults
That all men follow.


I must not think, there are Evils enough to darken all his goodness: His faults, in him, seem as the spots of heaven, More fiery by night's blackness; hereditary,


Vouchsaf'd to think he had partners:] The irregularity of metre in the first of these lines induces me to suppose the second originally and elliptically stood thus:

Or vouchsaf'd think he had partners &c.

So, in Cymbeline, Act II. sc. ii:

"Will force him think I have pick'd the lock" &c. not to think. STEEVENS.

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as the spots of heaven,

More fiery by night's blackness;] If by spots are meant stars, as night has no other fiery spots, the comparison is forced and harsh, stars having been always supposed to beautify the night; nor do I comprehend what there is in the counterpart of this simile, which answers to night's blackness. Hanmer reads:

spots on ermine,

Or fires, by night's blackness. JOHNSON.

The meaning seems to be-As the stars or spots of heaven are not obscured, but rather rendered more bright, by the blackness of the night, so neither is the goodness of Antony eclipsed by his evil qualities, but, on the contrary, his faults seem enlarged and aggravated by his virtues.

That which answers to the blackness of the night, in the counterpart of the simile, is Antony's goodness. His goodness is a ground which gives a relief to his faults, and makes them stand out more prominent and conspicuous.

It is objected, that stars rather beautify than deform the night. But the poet considers them here only with respect to their prominence and splendour. It is sufficient for him that their

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