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Were we before our armies, and to fight,
Ant. I learn, you take things ill, which are not so;
I must be laugh'd at,
My being in Egypt, Cæsar, What was 't to you?
Cæs. No more than my residing here at Rome Might be to you in Egypt: Yet, if you there
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 civi. lity, 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. Steeven'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.
Did practise on my state, 4 your being in Egypt
How intend you, practis'd?
Ant. You do mistake your business; my brother never
4 Did practise on my state.] To practise means to employ un. warrantable arts or stratagems. So, in The Tragedie of Antonie, done into English by the Countess of Pembroke, 1595 :
" nothing kills me so
« Practise with Cæsar.” Steevens. 5 question.] i. e. My theme or subject of conversation. So again in this scene :
“Out of our question wipe him.” Malone. 6 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 unauthorized, and very harsh. Perhaps we may read:
their contestation Had theme from you, you were the word of war: The dispute derived its subject from you. It may be corrected by mere transposition :
their contestation You were theme for, you were the word - Fohnson. 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 1, sc. i:
“ throw forth greater themes
“ For insurrection's arguing.”
Did urge me in his act:7 I did enquire it;
So, in Macbeth:
“ Two truths are told
“Of the imperial theme.” 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 evi. dently 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 An. tony's answer:
“ You do mistake your business ; my brother never
“ Did urge me in his act.” i. e. never made me the theme for " insurrection's arguing.”
Malone 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. M. Mason. ? my brother never
Dit 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." See Vol. VIII, p. 66. Steevens.
That drew their swords with you. Did he not rather
You praise yourself
Not so, not so:
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
Hating alike our cause? Fohnson. 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 causę. 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.
1 As matter whole you have not to make it with, ] The original copy reads:
As matter whole you have to make it with. Without doubt erroneously; I therefore only observe it, that the reader may more readily admit the liberties which the editors of this author's works have necessarily taken. Fohnson.
The old reading may be right. It seems to allude to Antony's acknowledged neglect in aiding Cæsar ; but yet Antony does not allow himself to be faulty upon the present cause alledged against him. Steevens.
I have not the smallest doubt that the correction, which was made by Mr. Rowe, is right. The structure of the sentence, “ As matter," &c. proves decisively that not was omitted. Of all the errors that happen at the press, omission is the most free quent. Malone.
Which 'fronted mine own peace. As for my wife,
Eno. 'Would we had all such wives, that the men might go to wars with the women!
Ant. So much uncurbable, her garboils, Cæsar,
I wrote to you,
2 with graceful eyes -] Thus the old copy reads, and, I believe, rightly. We still say, I could not look handsomely on such or such a proceeding. The modern editors read-grateful.
Steedens. 3 fronted -] i. e. Opposed. Johnson. So, in Cymbeline :
“ Your preparation can afront no less
“Than what you hear of.” Steevens. 4 I would you had her spirit in such another:] Antony means to say, I wish you had the spirit of Fulvia, embodied in such another woman as her; I wish you were married to such another spirited woman; and then you would find, that though you can govern the third part of the world, the management of such a woman is not an easy matter.
By the words, you had her spirit, &c. Shakspeare, I apprehend, meant, you were united to, or possessed of, a woman with her spirit.
Having formerly misapprehended this passage, and supposed that Antony wished Augustus to be actuated by a spirit similar to Fulvia's, I proposed to read-e'en such another, in being frequently printed for 'e'en in these plays. But there is no need of change. Malone.
Such, I believe, should be omitted, as both the verse and meaning are complete without it:
I would you had her spirit in another. The compositor's eve might have caught the here superfluous such, from the next line but one, in which such is absolutely necessary both to the sense and metre.
The plain meaning of Antony is--I wish you had my wife's spirit in another wife ;mi. e. in a wife of your own. SLCCNTHS.