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Be angry, and despatch. O, could'st thou speak! That I might hear thee call great Cæsar, ass Unpolicied!"
O eastern star!
O, break! O, break!
CLEO. As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,— O Antony!-Nay, I will take thee too:[Applying another Asp to her Arm. What should I stay- [Falls on a Bed, and dies.
Unpolicied!] i. e. an ass without more policy than to leave the means of death within my reach, and thereby deprive his triumph of its noblest decoration. STEEVENS.
7 That sucks the nurse asleep?] Before the publication of this piece, The Tragedy of Cleopatra, by Daniel, 1594, had made its appearance; but Dryden is more indebted to it than Shakspeare. Daniel has the following address to the asp:
"Better than death death's office thou dischargest, "That with one gentle touch can free our breath; "And in a pleasing sleep our soul enlargest,
Making ourselves not privy to our death."Therefore come thou, of wonders wonder chief, "That open canst with such an easy key "The door of life; come gentle, cunning thief, "That from ourselves so steal'st ourselves away." See Warton's Pope, Vol. IV. 219, v. 73. Dryden says on the same occasion:
Welcome thou kind deceiver!
"Thou best of thieves; who with an easy key
CHAR. In this wild world?-So, fare thee well.
Now boast thee, death! in thy possession lies
Of eyes again so royal! Your crown's awry;
• In this wild world?] Thus the old copy. I suppose she means by this wild world, this world which by the death of Antony is become a desert to her. A wild is a desert. Our author, however, might have written vild (i. e. vile according to ancient spelling) for worthless. STEEVENS.
Downy windows, close;] So, in Venus and Adonis: "Her two blue windows faintly she upheaveth."
Charmian, in saying this, must be conceived to close Cleopatra's eyes; one of the first ceremonies performed toward a dead body. RITSON.
-Your crown's awry ;] This is well amended by the editors. The old editions had
·Your crown's away. JOHNSON.
So, in Daniel's Tragedy of Cleopatra, 1594:
"And senseless, in her sinking down, she wryes.
The correction was made by Mr. Pope. The author has here as usual followed the old translation of Plutarch: "They found Cleopatra starke dead layed upon a bed of gold, attired and arrayed in her royal robes, and one of her two women, which was called Iras, dead at her feete; and her other woman called Charmian half dead, and trembling, trimming the diadem which Cleopatra wore upon her head." MALONE.
-and then play.] i. e. play her part in this tragick scene by destroying herself: or she may mean, that having performed her last office for her mistress, she will accept the permission given her in p. 288, to "play till doomsday." STEEVens.
Enter the Guard, rushing in.
1 GUARD. Where is the queen?
1 GUARD. Cæsar hath sent
Speak softly, wake her not.
Too slow a messenger. [Applies the Asp.
O, come; apace, despatch: I partly feel thee. 1 GUARD. Approach, ho! All's not well: Cæsar's beguil❜d.
2 GUARD. There's Dolabella sent from Cæsar;call him.
1 GUARD. What work is here?-—Charmian, is this well done?
CHAR. It is well done, and fitting for a princess Descended of so many royal kings.3 Ah, soldier!
Cæsar, thy thoughts Touch their effects in this: Thyself art coming To see perform'd the dreaded act, which thou So sought'st to hinder.
A way there, way for Cæsar!
"Descended of so many royal kings.] Almost these very words are found in Sir T. North's translation of Plutarch; and in Daniel's play on the same subject. The former book is not uncommon, and therefore it would be impertinent to croud the page with every circumstance which Shakspeare has borrowed from the same original. STEEVENS.
Enter CESAR, and Attendants.
DOL. O, sir, you are too sure an augurer; That you did fear, is done.
Bravest at the last : She levell'd at our purposes, and, being royal, Took her own way.-The manner of their deaths? I do not see them bleed.
Who was last with them? 1 GUARD. A simple countryman, that brought her figs;
This was his basket.
This Charmian lived but now; she stood, and spake:
I found her trimming up the diadem
On her dead mistress; tremblingly she stood,
CES. O noble weakness!If they had swallow'd poison, 'twould appear By external swelling: but she looks like sleep, As she would catch another Antony
In her strong toil of grace.
Here, on her breast, There is a vent of blood, and something blown :* The like is on her arm.
—something blown:] The flesh is somewhat puffed or JOHNSON.
So, in the ancient metrical romance of Syr Bevys of Hamp-. ton, bl. 1. no date :
"That with venim upon him throwen,
1 GUARD. This is an aspick's trail: and these fig-leaves
Have slime upon them, such as the aspick leaves Upon the caves of Nile.
Most probable, That so she died; for her physician tells me, She hath pursu'd conclusions infinite5 Of easy ways to die."-Take up her bed; And bear her women from the monument :She shall be buried by her Antony: No grave upon the earth shall clip" in it A pair so famous. High events High events as these Strike those that make them: and their story is No less in pity, than his glory, which
Again, in the romance of Syr Isenbras, bl. 1. no date:
Again, in Ben Jonson's Magnetick Lady:
"What is blown, puft? speak English.-
She hath pursu'd conclusions infinite-] To pursue conclusions, is to try experiments. So, in Hamlet: 66 like the famous ape,
"To try conclusions," &c. Again, in Cymbeline:
"I did amplify my judgment in
Of easy ways to die.] Such was the death brought on by the aspick's venom. Thus Lucan, Lib. IX :
"At tibi Leve miser fixus præcordia pressit
Accipis, & Stygias somno descendis ad umbras.”
STEEVENS. "-shall clip-] i. e. enfold. See p. 219, n. 4. STEEVENS. their story is
No less in pity, than his glory, &c.] i. e. the narrative of such events demands not less compassion for the sufferers, than glory on the part of him who brought on their sufferings.