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Serves for the matter that is then born in it.
Your speech is passion :
Enter ANTONY and VENTIDius.
Enter CESAR, MECENAS, and AGRIPPA. ANT. If we compose well here', to Parthia: Hark you, Ventidius.
I do not know,
Mecænas; ask Agrippa.
That which combin'd us was most great, and let
A leaner action rend us. What's amiss,
(The rather, for I earnestly beseech,)
Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms, Nor curstness grow to the matter 2.
'Tis spoken well: Were we before our armies, and to fight,
I should do thus.
CES. Welcome to Rome.
'If we COMPOSE well here,] i. e. if we come to a lucky composition, agreement. So afterwards :
"I crave our composition may be written―." i. e. the terms on which our differences are settled.
2 Nor curstness grow to the matter.] Let not ill-humour be added to the real subject of our difference. JOHNSON.
It not concern'd me.
Sit, sir !
ANT. I learn, you take things ill, which are not
Or, being, concern you not.
I must be laugh'd at,
If, or for nothing, or a little, I
3 Cæs. Sit.
Ant. Sit, sir!] Antony appears to be jealous of a circumstance which seemed to indicate a consciousness of superiority in his too successful partner in power; and accordingly resents the invitation of Cæsar to be seated: Cæsar answers, Nay, then;" i. e. if you are so ready to resent what I meant as an act of civility, there can be no reason to suppose you have temper enough for the business on which at present we are met. The former editors leave a full point at the end of this, as well as the preceding speech. STEEVENS.
The following circumstance may serve to strengthen Mr. Steevens's opinion: When the fictitious Sebastian made his appearance in Europe, he came to a conference with the Conde de Lemos; to whom, after the first exchange of civilities, he said, "Conde de Lemos, be covered." And being asked, by that nobleman, by what pretences he laid claim to the superiority expressed by such permission, he replied, "I do it by right of my birth; I am Sebastian." JOHNSON.
I believe, the author meant no more than that Cæsar should desire Antony to be seated: "Sit." To this Antony replies, Be
you, sir, seated first: Sit, sir." "Nay, then," rejoins Cæsar,
if you stand on ceremony, to put an end to farther talk on a matter of so little moment, I will take my seat.-However, I have too much respect for the two preceding editors, to set my judgment above their concurring opinions, and therefore have left the note of admiration placed by Mr. Steevens at the end of Antony's speech, undisturbed. MALONE.
What was❜t to you?
CES. No more than my residing here at Rome Might be to you in Egypt: Yet, if you there Did practise on my state, your being in Egypt Might be my question 5.
How intend you, practis'd? CES. You may be pleas'd to catch at mine intent,
By what did here befal me. Your wife, and brother,
Made wars upon me; and their contestation Was theme for you, you were the word of waro.
My being in Egypt, Cæsar,
4 Did PRACTISE on my state.] To practise means to employ unwarrantable arts or stratagems. So, in The Tragedie of Antonie, done into English by the Countess of Pembroke, 1595:
nothing kills me so
"As that I do my Cleopatra see
"Practise with Cæsar." STEEVENS.
-question-] i. e. My theme or subject of conversation. So again in this scene:
"Out of our question wipe him." MALONE. their contestation
Was THEME for you, you were the word of war.] The only meaning of this can be, that the war, which Antony's wife and brother made upon Cæsar, was theme for Antony too to make war; or was the occasion why he did make war. But this is directly contrary to the context, which shows, Antony did neither encourage them to it, nor second them in it. We cannot doubt then, but the poet wrote:
and their contestation "Was them'd for you,"
i. e. The pretence of the war was on your account, they took up arms in your name, and you were made the theme and subject of their insurrection. WARBURTON.
I am neither satisfied with the reading nor the emendation: them'd is, I think, a word unauthorised, and very harsh. Perhaps we may read :
"Had theme from you, you were the word of war."
ANT. You do mistake your business; my brother
"The dispute derived its subject from you.' It may be corrected by mere transposition:
"You were theme for, you were the word-." JOHNSON. "Was theme for you," I believe, means only, 'was proposed as an example for you to follow on a yet more extensive plan;' as themes are given for a writer to dilate upon. Shakspeare, however, may prove the best commentator on himself. Thus, in Coriolanus, Act I. Sc. I. :
- throw forth greater themes "For insurrection's arguing." Sicinius calls Coriolanus, "the theme of our assembly." STEEVENS.
So, in Macbeth:
Two truths are told
"As happy prologues to the swelling act
And, in Cymbeline :
When a soldier was the theme, my name "Was not far off." HENLEY.
Mr. Steevens's interpretation is certainly a just one, as the words now stand; but the sense of the words thus interpreted, being directly repugnant to the remaining words, which are evidently put in apposition with what has preceded, shows that there must be some corruption. If their contestation was a theme for Antony to dilate upon, an example for him to follow, what congruity is there between these words and the conclusion of the passage'you were the word of war:" i. e. your name was employed by them to draw troops to their standard? On the other hand, "their contestation derived its theme or subject from you; you were their word of war," affords a clear and consistent sense. Dr. Warburton's emendation, however, does not go far enough. To obtain the sense desired, we should read—
"Was them'd from you-."
So, in Troilus and Cressida :
"She is a theme of honour and renown,
"A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds." Again, in Hamlet:
So like the king,
"That was and is the question of these wars."
In almost every one of Shakspeare's plays, substantives are used as verbs. That he must have written from, appears by Antony's
Did urge me in his act': I did enquire it;
Discredit my authority with yours;
And make the wars alike against my stomach, Having alike your cause? Of this, my letters Before did satisfy you. If you'll patch a quarrel,
"You do mistake your business; my brother never
i.e. never made me the theme for "insurrection's arguing."
I should suppose that some of the words in this sentence have been misplaced, and that it ought to stand thus:
and for contestation
"Their theme was you; you were the word of war."
my brother never
Did urge me in his act :] i. e. Never did make use of my name as a pretence for the war. WARBURTON.
8 true REPORTS,] Reports for reporters. Mr. Tollet observes that Holinshed, 1181, uses records for vouchers; and in King Richard II. our author has wrongs for wrongers:
"To rouse his wrongs and chase them to the bay." STEEVENS.
9 HAVING alike YOUR cause?] The meaning seems to be, having the same cause as you to be offended with me." But why, because he was offended with Antony, should he make war upon Cæsar? May it not be read thus:
Did he not rather
"Discredit my authority with yours,
"And make the wars alike against my stomach,
Hating alike our cause?" JOHNSON.
The old reading is immediately explained by Antony's being the partner with Octavius in the cause against which his brother fought. STEEVens.
Having alike your cause?" That is, I having alike your cause. The meaning is the same as if, instead of "against my stomach," our author had written" against the stomach of me." Did he not (says Antony) make wars against the inclination of me also, of me, who was engaged in the same cause with yourself? Dr. Johnson supposed that having meant, he having, and hence has suggested an unnecessary emendation. MALONE.