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any way on the stage, but by making Cleopatra and her attendants speak all their speeches till the queen is seized, within the MALONE.
Line 100. fortune's knave,] The servant of fortune JOHNS. -And it is great
To do that thing that ends all other deeds ;
The beggar's nurse and Cæsar's.] The difficulty of the passage, if any difficulty there be, arises only from this, that the act of suicide, and the state which is the effect of suicide, are confounded. Voluntary death, says she, is an act which bolts up change; it produces a state,
Which sleeps, and never palates more the dung,
Which has no longer need of the gross and terrene sustenance, in the use of which Cæsar and the beggar are on a level.
The speech is abrupt, but perturbation in such a state is surely natural. JOHNSON.
Line 154. Worth many babes and beggars !] Why, death, wilt thou not rather seize a queen, than employ thy force upon babes and beggars. JOHNSON.
Line 157. 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.
Line 212. As plates-] Plates, mean, I believe, silver money. 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. JOHNS.
Line 284. —seel my lips,] Sew up my mouth. JOHNSON. -307. Parcel the sum of my disgraces by-] To parcel her disgraces, might be expressed in vulgar language, to bundle up her calamities. JOHNSON. Line 318. Through the ashes of my chance:] Or fortune. The meaning is, Begone, or I shall exert that royal spirit which I had in my prosperity, in spite of the imbecility of my present weak condition. WARBURTON.
Line 322. Be it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought
For things that others do; and, when we fall,
We answer others' merits in our name,
Are therefore to be pitied.] We suffer at our highest
state of elevation in the thoughts of mankind for that which others do; and when we fall, those that contented themselves only to think ill before, call us to answer in our own names for the merits of others. We are therefore to be pitied. Merits is in this place taken in an ill sense, for actions meriting censure. JOHNSON. Line 333. Make not your thoughts your prisons :] i. e. Be not a prisoner in imagination, when in reality you are free. JOHNSON. Line 375. and scald rhymers
Ballad us out o' tune:] Sculd was a word of contempt implying poverty, disease, and filth. JOHNSON. the quick comedians-] The gay inventive JOHNSON. Line 380. boy my greatness-] The parts of women were acted on the stage by boys. HANMER. Line 409.the pretty worm of Nilus-] Worm is the Teutonick word for serpent; we have the blind-worm and slow-worm still in our language, and the Norwegians call an enormous monster seen sometimes in the Northern ocean, the sea-worm. JOHNS.
Line 422. But he that will believe all that they say, shall never be saved by half that they do:] Shakspeare's clowns are always jokers, and deal in sly satire. It is plain this must be read the contrary way, and all and half change places. WARBURTON.
Probably Shakspeare designed that confusion which the critick would disentangle.
Line 429. ing to his nature.
Line 461. Have I the aspick in my lips?] Are my lips poison'd by the aspick, that my kiss has destroyed thee?
Line 538. puffed or swoln. Line 550.
Line 461. -Dost fall?] Iras must be supposed to have applied an asp to her arm while her mistress was settling her dress, or I know not why she should fall so soon. STEEVENS.
Line 472. He'll make demand of her;] He will enquire of her concerning me, and kiss her for giving him intelligence.
-will do his kind.] The serpent will act accordJOHNSON.
JOHNSON. -something blown:] The flesh is somewhat JOHNSON.
➡shall clip—] i. e, embrace.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 1. You do not meet a man, but frowns: our bloods
Still seem, as does the king's.] We do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods-our countenances, which, in popular speech, are said to be regulated by the temper of the blood,-no more obey the laws of heaven,-which direct us to appear what we really are, than our courtiers:—that is, than the bloods of our courtiers; but our bloods, like theirs,-still seem, as doth the king's. JOHNSON.
Line 31. You speak him far.] You are lavish in your encomiums on him: your eulogium has a wide compass. MALONE.
Line 32. I do extend him, sir, within himself;] I extend him within himself: my praise, however extensive, is within his merit. JOHNSON.
-Liv'd in court,
(Which rare it is to do,) most prais'd, most lov'd:] This encomium is high and artful. To be at once in any great degree loved and praised, is truly rare.