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GAL. You see how easily she may be surpriz'd; [Here PROCULEIUS, and two of the Guard,
ascend the Monument by a Ladder placed against a Window, and having descended, come behind CLEOPATRA. Some of the Guard unbar and open the Gates.8 Guard her till Cæsar come.9
[TO PROCULEIUS and the Guard. Exit GALLUS.
In the old copy there is no stage-direction. That which is now inserted is formed on the old translation of Plutarch: "Proculeius came to the gates that were very thicke and strong, and surely barred; but yet there were some cranews through the which her voyce might be heard, and so they without understood that Cleopatra demaunded the kingdome of Egypt for her sonnes and that Proculeius aunswered her, that she should be of good cheere and not be affrayed to refer all unto Cæsar. After he had viewed the place very well, he came and reported her aunswere unto Cæsar: who immediately sent Gallus to speak once againe with her, and bad him purposely hold her with talk, whilst Proculeius did set up a ladder against that high windowe by the which Antonius was tresed up, and came down into the monument with two of his men hard by the gate, where Cleopatra stood to hear what Gallus said unto her. One of her women which was shut in her monument with her, sawe Proculeius by chaunce, as he came downe, and shreeked out, O, poore Cleopatra, thou art taken. Then when she sawe Proculeius behind her as she came from the gate, she thought to have stabbed herself with a short dagger she wore of purpose by her side. But Proculeius came sodainly upon her, and taking her by both the hands, sayd unto her, Cleopatra, first thou shalt doe thy selfe great wrong, and secondly unto Cæsar, to deprive him of the occasion and opportunitie openlie to shew his vauntage and mercie, and to give his enemies cause to accuse the most courteous and noble prince that ever was, and to appeache him as though he were a cruel and mercilesse man, that were not to be trusted. So, even as he spake the word, he tooke her dagger from her, and shooke her clothes for feare of any poyson hidden about her." MALone.
Gal. You see how easily she may be surpriz'd;
Guard her till Cæsar come.] [Mr. Rowe (and Mr. Pope followed him) allotted this speech to Charmian.] This blunder was for want of knowing, or observing, the historical fact.
IRAS. Royal queen!
When Cæsar sent Proculeius to the queen, he sent Gallus after him with new instructions; and while one amused Cleopatra with propositions from Cæsar, through the crannies of the monument, the other scaled it by a ladder, entered it at a window backward, and made Cleopatra, and those with her, prisoners. I have reformed the passage, therefore, (as, I am persuaded, the author designed it,) from the authority of Plutarch. [Mr. Theobald gives-You see how easily &c. to Gallus; and Guard her &c. to Proculeius.] THEOBALD.
This line, in the first edition, is given to Proculeius; and to him it, certainly belongs, though perhaps misplaced. I would put it at the end of his foregoing speech:
Where he for grace is kneel'd to.
[Aside to Gallus.] You see how easily she may be surpriz'd;
Then, while Cleopatra makes a formal answer, Gallus, upon the hint given, seizes her, and Proculeius, interrupting the civility of his answer:
your plight is pitied Of him that caus'd it.
Guard her till Cæsar come.
To this speech, as well as the preceding, Pro. [i. e. Proculeius] is prefixed in the old copy. It is clear, from the passage quoted from Plutarch in the following note, that this was an error of the compositor's at the press, and that it belongs to Gallus; who, after Proculeius hath, according to his suggestion, ascended the monument, goes out to inform Cæsar that Cleopatra is taken. That Cæsar was informed immediately of Cleopatra's being taken, appears from Dolabella's first speech to Proculeius on his entry. See p. 273:
"What thou hast done, thy master Cæsar knows," &c. This information, it is to be presumed, Cæsar obtained from Gallus.
The stage-directions being very imperfect in this scene in the old copy, no exit is here marked; but as Gallus afterwards enters along with Cæsar, it was undoubtedly the author's intention that he should here go out. In the modern editions, this, as well as the preceding speech, is given to Proculeius, though the error in the old copy clearly shows that two speakers were intended. MALONE.
CHAR. O Cleopatra! thou art taken, queen!
[Drawing a Dagger. Hold, worthy lady, hold: [Seizes and disarms her.
Do not yourself such wrong, who are in this
Do not abuse my master's bounty, by
CLEO. Where art thou, death? Come hither, come! come, come, and take a queen Worth many babes and beggars !2
O, temperance, lady! CLEO. Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir; If idle talk will once be necessary,
I'll not sleep neither:3 This mortal house I'll ruin,
languish?] So, in Romeo and Juliet, Act I. sc. ii : "One desperate grief cure with another's languish."
? Worth many babes and beggars!] Why, death, wilt thou not rather seize a queen, than employ thy force upon babes and beggars? JOHNSON.
If idle talk will once be necessary,
I'll not sleep neither:] I will not eat, and if it will be necessary now for once to waste a moment in idle talk of my purpose, I will not sleep neither. In common conversation we often use will be, with as little relation to futurity. As, Now I am going, it will be fit for me to dine first. JOHNSON.
Once may mean sometimes. Of this use of the word I have already given instances, both in The Merry Wives of Windsor,
Do Cæsar what he can. Know, sir, that I
and King Henry VIII. The meaning of Cleopatra seems to be this: If idle talking be sometimes necessary to the prolongation of life, why I will not sleep for fear of talking idly in my sleep.
The sense designed, however, may be-If it be necessary, for once, to talk of performing impossibilities, why, I'll not sleep neither. I have little confidence, however, in these attempts to produce a meaning from the words under consideration.
The explications above given appear to me so unsatisfactory, and so little deducible from the words, that I have no doubt that a line has been lost after the word necessary, in which Cleopatra threatened to observe an obstinate silence. The line probably began with the words I'll, and the compositor's eye glancing on the same words in the line beneath, all that intervened was lost. See p. 148, n. 4; and p. 260, n. 8.
So, in Othello, quarto, 1622, Act III. sc. i:
In the folio the second line is omitted, by the compositor's eye, after the first word of it was composed, glancing on the same word immediately under it in the subsequent line, and then proceeding with that line instead of the other. This happens frequently at the press. The omitted line in the passage, which has given rise to the present note, might have been of this import :
Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir;
I'LL not so much as syllable a word;
I'LL not sleep neither: This mortal house I'll ruin, &c. The words I'll not sleep neither, contain a new and distinct menace. I once thought that Shakspeare might have writtenI'll not speak neither; but in p. 285, Cæsar comforting Cleopatra, says, "feed, and sleep," which shows that sleep, in the passage before us, is the true reading. MALONE,
I agree that a line is lost, which I shall attempt to supply:
Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir;
If idle talk will once be necessary,
[I will not speak; if sleep be necessary,]
The repetition of the word necessary may have occasioned the omission.
Will not wait pinion'd at your master's court;
You do extend These thoughts of horror further than you shall Find cause in Cæsar.
What thou hast done thy master Cæsar knows,
My country's high pyramides my gibbet,] The poet designed we should read-pyramides, Lat. instead of pyramids, and so the folio reads. The verse will otherwise be defective. Thus, in Doctor Faustus, 1604:
"Besides the gates and high pyramides "That Julius Cæsar brought from Africa." Again, in Tamburlaine, 1590:
"Like to the shadows of pyramides."
Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. XII. c. lxxiii: "The theaters, pyramides, the hills of half a mile."
Mr. Tollet observes, that Sandys, in his Travels, as well as Drayton, in the 26th Song of his Polyolbion, uses pyramides as a quadrisyllable. STEEVENS.
as-] This conjunction is wanting in the first, but is supplied by the second folio. STEEVENS.