« AnteriorContinuar »
'Twas merry, when
That time!_0 times!
Enter a Messenger.
1 Did hang a salt-fish &c.] This circumstance is like wise taken from Sir Thomas North's translation of the life of Antony in Plutarch, Steevens. 2 _ whilst
I wore his sword Philippan.] We are not to suppose, nor is there any warrant from history, that Antony had any particular sword so called. The dignifying weapons, in this sort, is a custom of much more recent date. This therefore seems a compliment d posteriori. We find Antony, afterwards, in this play, boasting of his own prowess at Philippi:
“Ant. Yes, my lord, yes; he at Philippi kept “ His sword e'en like a dancer; while I struck
“ The lean and wrinkled Cassius ;" &c. That was the greatest action of Antony's life; and therefore this seems a fine piece of flattery, intimating, that this sword ought to be denominated from that illustrious battle, in the same manner as modern heroes in romances are made to give their swords pompous names. Theobali.
3 Ram thou thy fruitful tidings -] Shakspeare probably wrote, (as Sir T. Hanmer observes) Rain thou &c. Rain agrees better with the epithets fruitful and barren. So, in Timon:
“ Rain sacrificial whisp'rings in his ear." Again, in The Tempest:
“ Heavens rain grace!" Steevens. I suspect no corruption. The term employed in the text is much in the style of the speaker; and is supported incontestably by a passage in Julius Cæsar :
I go to meet
“ Into his ears." Again, in Cymbeline :
“- say, and speak thick,
“ To the smothering of the sense,) how far,” &c. Again, in The Tempest:
That long time have been barren.
First, madam, he 's well. Cleo. Why, there's more gold. But, sirrah, mark; We
Me88. Good madam, hear me.
Well, go to, I will;
“ You cram these words into my ears, against
- The stomach of my sense.” Malone. Ram is a vulgar word, never used in our author's plays, but once by Falstaff, where he describes his situation in the buckbasket. In the passage before us, it is evidently a misprint for rain. The quotation from Fulius Cæsar does not support the old reading at all, the idea being perfectly distinct. Ritson, Ramm'd, however, occurs in King John: 6' Have we ramm’d up your gates against the world.”
Steevens 4 But well and free, &c.] This speech is but coldly imitated by Beaumont and Fletcher, in The False One :
“ Cleop. What of him? Speak: if ill, Apollodorus,
- If Antony
To trumpet such good tidings?] The old copies have not the adverb-why; but, as Mr. M. Mason observes, somewhat was "wanting in the second of these lines, both to the sense and to the metre. He has, therefore, no doubt but the passage ought to sun thus:
To usher &c. I have availed myself of this necessary expletive, which I find also in Sir Thomas Hanmer's edition. Steevens.
Thou should'st come like a fury crown'd with snakes,
Will 't please you hear me?
Madam, he's well.
Thou 'rt an honest man.
But yet, madam, -
I suspect a word was omitted at the press, and that Shakspeare wrote:
- If Antony
Be free, and healthful, needs so tart a favour, &c. Malone. 6 Not like a formal man.] Decent, regular. Johnson.
By a formal man, Shakspeare means, a man in his senses. Informal women, in Measure for Measure, is used for women beside themselves. Steevens.
A formal man, I believe, only means a man in form, i. e. shape. You should come in the form of a fury, and not in the form of a man. So, in A mad World my Masters, by Middleton, 1608:
“ The very devil assum'd thee formally.” i, e. assumed thy form. Malone. 7 Yet, if thou say, Antony lives, is well, Or friends with Cæsar, &c.] The old copy reads-'tis well.
Malone. We surely should read-is well. The Messenger is to have his reward, if he says, that Antony is alive, in health, and either friends with Cæsar, or not captive to him. Tyrwhitt. 8 I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.] That is, I will give thee a kingdom : it being the eastern ceremony, at the coronation of their kings, to powder them with gold-dust and seed-pearl. So, Milton:
“— the gorgeous east with liberal hand
“ Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold.” In The Life of Timur-bec, or Tamerlane, written by a Persian contemporary author, are the following words, as translated by Mons. Petit de la Crois, in the account there given of his coronation, Book II, chap. i: “Les princes du sang royal & les emirs repandirent à pleines mains sur sa tête quantité d'or & de pierreries selon la coûtume." Warburton,
The good precedence;9 fy upon but yet:
Mess. Free, madam! no; I made no such report:
For what good turn?
I am pale, Charmian.
[Strikes him down. Miess. Good madam, patience. Cleo.
What say you?-Hence,
[Strikes him again. Horrible villain! or I 'll spurn thine eyes Like balls before me; I 'll unhair thy head;
[She hales him up and down. Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in brine, Smarting in ling'ring pickle. Mess.
Cleo. Say, 'tis not so, a province I will give thee,
He's married, madam.
[Draws a Dagger? Mess.
Nay, then I 'il run: What mean you, madam? I have made no fault. [Exit.
9- it does allay
The good precedence ; ] i. e. abates the good quality of what is already reported. Steevens.
1 the pack -] A late editor [Mr. Capell] reads--thy pack. Reed.
I believe our author wrote thy pack. The, thee, and thy, are frequently confounded in the old copy. Malone.
2 - Draws a Dagger.] The old copy-Draw a Knife. Steedens, See Vol. VII, p. 56, n. 7. Malone.
Char. Good madam, keep yourself within yourself;3 The man is innocent.
Cleo. Some innocents 'scape not the thunderbolt.
Char. He is afeard to come.
I will not hurt him godinama
I have done my duty.
3. keep yourself within yourself ;] i. e. contain yourself, restrain your passion within bounds. So, in The Taming of the Shrew:
“ Doubt not, my lord, we can contain ourselves.” Steeveta.. 4 Melt Egypt into Nile! ] So, in the first scene of this play:
“Let Rome in Tyber melt,” &c. Steevens. 5 These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself ;] This thought seems to be borrowed from the laws of chivalry, which forbad a knight to engage with his inferior. So, in Albumazar :
“ Stay; understand'st thou well the points of duel ?
“ In me to fight." Steevens. Perhaps here was intended an indirect censure of Queen Elizabeth, for her unprincely and unfeminine treatment of the amiable Earl of Essex. The play was probably not produced till after her death, when a stroke at her proud and passionate demeanour to her courtiers and maids of honour (for her majesty used to chastise them too) might be safely hazarded. In a subsequent part of this scene there is (as Dr. Grey has observed) an evident allusion to Elizabeth's enquiries concerning the person of her rival, Mary, Queen of Scots. Malone.