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ENO. Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be-drunk to bed.
IRAS. There's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.
CHAR. Even as the o'erflowing Nilus presageth famine.
IRAS. GO, you wild bedfellow, you cannot sooth
CHAR. Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication,5 I cannot scratch mine ear.Pr’ythee, tell her but a worky-day fortune. SOOTH. Your fortunes are alike.
IRAS. But how, but how? give me particulars. SOOTH. I have said.
IRAS. Am I not an inch of fortune better than she?
CHAR. Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where would you choose it? IRAS. Not in husband's nose. my
CHAR. Our worser thoughts heavens mend! Alexas,-come, his fortune, his fortune.-O, let
Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, &c.] So, in Othello:
This hand is moist, my lady:
"This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart." MALONE. Antonio, in Dryden's Don Sebastian, has the same remark: "I have a moist, sweaty palm; the more's my sin." STEEVENS.
Alexas, come, his fortune,] [In the old copy, the name of Alexas is prefixed to this speech.]
Whose fortune does Alexas call out to have told? But, in short, this I dare pronounce to be so palpable and signal a transposition, that I cannot but wonder it should have slipt the observation of all the editors; especially of the sagacious Mr. Pope,
him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee! And let her die too, and give him a worse! and let worse follow worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight; good Isis, I beseech thee!
IRAS. Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people! for, as it is a heart-breaking to see a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded; Therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune him accordingly!
ALEX. Lo, now! if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but they'd do't.
ENO. Hush! here comes Antony.
Not he, the queen.
who has made this declaration, That if, throughout the plays, had all the speeches been printed without the very names of the persons, he believes one might have applied them with certainty to every speaker. But in how many instances has Mr. Pope's want of judgment falsified this opinion? The fact is evidently this: Alexas brings a fortune-teller to Iras and Charmian, and says himself, We'll know all our fortunes. Well; the Soothsayer begins with the women; and some jokes pass upon the subject of husbands and chastity: after which, the women hoping for the satisfaction of having something to laugh at in Alexas's fortune, call him to hold out his hand, and wish heartily that he may have the prognostication of cuckoldom upon him. The whole speech, therefore, must be placed to Charmian. There needs no stronger proof of this being a true correction, than the observation which Alexas immediately subjoins on their wishes and zeal to hear him abused. THEOBALD.
CLEO. He was dispos'd to mirth; but on the sudden
A Roman thought hath struck him.-Enobarbus,— ENO. Madam.
CLEO. Seek him, and bring him hither. Where's
ALEX. Here, madam, at your service. My lord approaches.
Enter ANTONY, with a Messenger and Attendants.
CLEO. We will not look upon him: Go with us. [Exeunt CLEOPATRA, ENOBARBUS, ALEXAS, IRAS, CHARMIAN, Soothsayer, and Attendants.
MESS. Fulvia thy wife first came into the field. ANT. Against my brother Lucius?
But soon that war had end, and the time's state
7 Saw you my lord?] Old copy-Save you. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Saw was formerly written sawe. MALONE.
'Here, madam,] The respect due from Alexas to his mistress, in my opinion, points out the title-Madam, (which is wanting in the old copy,) as a proper cure for the present defect in metre.
Made friends of them, jointing their force 'gainst
Whose better issue in the war, from Italy,
Upon the first encounter, drave them."
ANT. What worst?
MESS. The nature of bad news infects the teller. ANT. When it concerns the fool, or coward.-On: Things, that are past, are done, with me.-'Tis thus; Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death, I hear him as he flatter'd.
(This is stiff news) hath, with his Parthian force, Extended Asia from Euphrates;2
drave them.] Drave is the ancient preterite of the verb, to drive, and frequently occurs in the Bible. Thus, in Joshua, xxiv. 12: "—and drave them out from before you." Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad:
to chariot he arose,
(This is stiff news)] So, in The Rape of Lucrece:
* Extended Asia from Euphrates;] i. e. widened or extended the bounds of the Lesser Asia. WARBUrton.
To extend, is a term used for to seize; I know not whether this be not the sense here. JOHNSON.
I believe Dr. Johnson's explanation is right. So, in Selimus, Emperor of the Turks, 1594:
"Ay, though on all the world we make extent, "From the south pole unto the northern bear." Again, in Twelfth-Night:
this uncivil and unjust extent
Against thy peace."
Again, in Massinger's New Way to pay old Debts, the Extor
"This manor is extended to my use."
Mr. Tollet has likewise no doubt but that Dr. Johnson's ex
His conquering banner shook, from Syria
Antony, thou would'st say,
O, my lord! ANT. Speak to me home, mince not the general
Name Cleopatra as she's call'd in Rome:
planation is just; "for (says he) Plutarch informs us that Labienus was by the Parthian king made general of his troops, and had over-run Asia from Euphrates and Syria to Lydia and Ïonia.” To extend is a law term used for to seize lands and tenements. In support of his assertion he adds the following instance: "Those wasteful companions had neither lands to extend nor goods to be seized." Savile's translation of Tacitus, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. And then observes, that "Shakspeare knew the legal signification of the term, as appears from a passage in As you like it :
"And let my officers of such a nature
"Make an extent upon his house and lands.”
See Vol. VIII. p. 82, n. 6.
Our ancient English writers almost always give us Euphrates instead of Euphrates.
Thus, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 21:
"That gliding go in state, like swelling Euphrates."
See note on Cymbeline, Act III. sc. iii. STEEVens.
When our quick winds lie still;] The sense is, that man, not agitated by censure, like soil not ventilated by quick winds, produces more evil than good. JOHNSON.
An idea, somewhat similar, occurs also in The First Part of King Henry IV: "the cankers of a calm world and a long peace." Again, in The Puritan: "-hatched and nourished in the idle calms of peace."