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With most gladness;'
Let us, Lepidus,
Ant. and LEP. Mec. Welcome from Egypt, sir.
Eno. Half the heart of Cæsar, worthy Mecænas! my honourable friend, Agrippa!
Agr. Good Enobarbus! Mec. We have cause to be glad, that matters are so well digested. You stay'd well by it in Egypt.
Eno. Ay, sir; we did sleep day out of countenance, and made the night light with drinking.
Mec. Eight wild boars roasted whole at a breakfast, and but twelve persons there; Is this true?
Eno. This was but as a fly by an eagle: we had much more monstrous matter of feast, which worthily deserved noting
Mec. She's a most triumphant lady, if report be square to her.5
Eno. When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart, upon the river of Cydnus..
Agr. There she appeared indeed; or my reporter devised well for her.
Eno. I will tell you:
4 most gladness;] i. e. greatest. So, in King Henry VI, Part I:
“But always resolute in most extremes.” Steevens. 5- be square to her.] i. e. if report quadrates with her, or suits with her merits. Steevens.
6 When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart, upon the river of Cydnus.] This passage is a strange instance of negligence and inattention in Shakspeare. Enobarbus is made to say that Cleopatra gained Antony's heart on the river Cydnus; but it appears from the conclusion of his own description, that Antony had never seen her there; that, whilst she was on the river, Antony was sitting alone, enthroned in the market-place, whistling to the air, all the people having left him to gaze upon her: and that, when she landed, he sent to her to invite her to supper.
M. Mason. ? The barge she sat in, &c.] The reader may not be displeased
Burn'd on the water:: the poop was beaten gold;
with the present opportunity of comparing our author's description with that of Dryden :
“ Her galley down the silver Cydnus row'd,
like a burnish'd throne, Burn'd on the water :] The same idea occurs in Chapman's translation of the tenth Book of the Odyssey :
“ In a throne she plac'd
“'Twas, and so bright, I sat as in a flame.” Steevens. 9 O'er-picturing that Venus, where we see, &c.] Meaning the Venus of Protogenes, mentioned by Pliny, L.XXXV, c. x. Warburton. 1 And what they undid, did.] It might be read less harshly:
And what they did, undid. Johnson.
. O, rare for Antony !
The reading of the old copy is, I believe, right. The wind of the fans seemed to give a new colour to Cleopatra's cheeks, which they were employed to cool; and what they undid, i. e. that warmth which they were intended to diminish or allay, they did, i. e. they seemed to produce. Malone. a t ended her i the eyes,] Perhaps tended her by th' eyes, discovered her will by her eyes. Johnson.' So, Spenser, Fairy Queen, B. I, c. iii:
" he wayted diligent,
“ And by her looks conceited her intent." Again, in our author's 149th Sonnet:
“ Commanded by the motion of thine eyes." The words of the text may, however, only mean, they performed their duty in the sight of their mistress. Malone."
3 And made their bends adornings :) This is sense indeed, and may be understood thus:--Her maids bowed with so good an air, that it added new graces to them. But this is not what Shak. speare would say. Cleopatra, in this famous scene, personated Venus just rising from the waves; at which time, the mytholo. gists tell us, the sea-deities surrounded the goddess to adore, and pay her homage. Agreeably to this fable, Cleopatra had dressed her maids, the poet tells us, like Nereids. To make the whole, therefore, conformable to the story represented, we may be assured, Shakspeare wrote:
And made their bends adorings. They did her observance in the posture of adoration, as if she had been Venus. Warburton.
That Cleopatra personated Venus, we know; but that Shak. speare was acquainted with the circumstance of homage being gay paid her by the deities of the sea, is by no means as certain. The
old term will probably appear the more elegant of the two to mo. dern readers, who have heard so much about the line of beauty. The whole passage is taken from the following in Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch: “ She disdained to set forward otherwise, but to take her barge in the riuer of Cydnus, the poope whereof was of golde, the sailes of purple, and the owers of siluer, whiche kept stroke in rowing after the sounde of the musicke of flutes, howboyes, citherns, violls, and such other instruments as they played vpon in the barge. And now for the person of her selfe: she was layed under a pauillion of cloth of gold of tissue, apparelled and attired like the Goddesse Venus, commonly drawn in picture; and hard by her, on either hand of her, pretie faire boyes apparelled as painters do set forth God
A seeming Mermaid steers; the silken tackle
Cupide, with little fannes in their hands, with the which they fanned wind vpon her. Her ladies and gentlewomen also, the fairest of them were apparelled like the nymphes Nereides (which are the mermaides of the waters) and like the Graces, some stearing the helme, others tending the tackle and ropes of the barge, out of the which there came a wonderfull passing sweete sauor of perfumes, that perfumed the wharfes side, pes. tered with innumerable multitudes of people. Some of them followed the barge all alongst the riuer's side: others also ranne out of the citie to see her coming in. So that in thend, there ranne such multitudes of people one after another to see her, that Antonius was left post alone in the market place, in his imperiall seate to geve audience :" &c. Steevens.
There are few passages in these plays more puzzling than this; but the commentators seem to me to have neglected entirely the difficult part of it, and to have confined ail their learning and conjectures to that which requires but little, if any explanation: for if their interpretation of the words, tended her i' the eyes, be just, the obvious meaning of the succeeding line will be, that in paying their obeisance to Cleopatra, the humble inclination of their bodies was so graceful, that it added to their beauty.
Warburton's 'amendment, the reading adorings, instead of adornings, would render the passage less poetical, and it cannot express the sense he wishes for, without an alteration; for although, as Mr. Steevens justly observes, the verb adore is frequently used by the ancient dramatick writers in the sense of tà adorn, I do not find that to adorn was reciprocally used in the sense of to adore. Tollet's explanation is ill imagined; for though the word band might formerly have been spelled with an e, and a troop of beautiful attendants would add to the general magnificence of the scene, they would be more likely to eclipse than to increase the charms of their mistress. And as for Malone's conjecture, though rather more ingenious, it is just as ill founded. That a particular bend of the eye may add lustre to the charms of a beautiful woman, every man must have felt; and it must be acknowledged that the words, their bends, may refer to the eyes of Cleopatra; but the word made must necessarily refer to her gentle women: and it would be absurd to say that they made the bends of her eyes, adornings. But all these explanations, from the first to the last, are equally erroneous, and are founded on a supposition that the passage is correct, and that the words, tended her i the eyes, must mean, that her attendants watched her eyes, and from them received her commands. How those words can, by any possible construction, imply that meaning, the editors have not shewn, nor can I conceive. Of this I am certain, that if such arbitrary and fanciful interpretations be admitted, we shall be able to extort what sense we please from any combination of words.-The passage, as it stands, appears to me to be wholly unintelligible; but it may be amended by a very slight deviation
Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands,
from the text, by reading, the guise, instead of the eyes, and then it will run thus :
Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides,
So many mermaids, tended her i the guise, • And made their bends, adornings. In the guise, means in the form of mermaids, who were sup. posed to have the head and body of a beautiful woman, conclud. ing in a fish's tail: and by the bends which they made adornings, Enobarbus means the flexure of the fictitious fishes' tails, in which the limbs of the women were necessarily involved, in order to carry on the deception, and which it seems they adapted with so much art as to make them an ornament, instead of a de. formity. This conjecture is supported by the very next sentence, where Enobarbus, proceeding in his description, says: "
at the helm “ A seeming mermaid steers.” M. Mason. In many of the remarks of Mr. M. Mason I perfectly concur, though they are subversive of opinions I had formerly hazarded. On the present occasion, I have the misfortune wholly to disagree with him.
His deviation from the text cannot be received, for who ever employed the phrase he recommends, without adding somewhat immediately after it, that would determine its precise meaning? We may properly say—in the guise of a shepherd, of a friar, or of a Nereid. But to tell us that Cleopatra's women attended her “ in the guise,” without subsequently informing us what that guise was, is phraseology unauthorized by the practice of any writer I have met with. In Cymbeline, Posthumus says:
“ To shame the guise of the world, I will begin
“ The fashion, less without, and more within." If the word the commentator would introduce had been genuine, and had referred to the antecedent, Nereides, Shakspeare would most probably have said “tended her in that guise :” at least he would have employed some expression to connect his supplement with the foregoing clause of his description. But" in the guise" seems unreducible to sense, and unjustifiable on every principle of grammar.-Besides, when our poet had once absolutely declared these women were like Nereides or Mer. maids, would it have been necessary for him to subjoin that they appeared in the form, or with the accoutrements of such beings? for how else could they have been distinguished?
Yet, whatever grace the tails of legitimate mermaids might boast of in their native element, they must have produced but aukward effects when taken out of it, and exhibited on the deck of a galley. Nor can I conceive that our fair representatives of these nymphs of the sea were much more adroit and picturesque in their motions : for when their legs were cramped within the fictitious tails the commentator has made for them, I do not discover how they could have undulated thcir hinder parts in a