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I am conqueror of myself. Thou art sworn, Eros,
noble mind than Cleopatra. But he means to assert the very contrary: that he must acknowledge he has a less noble mind than she. I therefore formerly supposed that Shakspeare might have written:
- condemn myself to lack
Than she, &c. But a more intimate acquaintance with his writings has shown me that he had some peculiar inaccuracies, which it is very idle to endeavour to amend. For these the poet, not his editor, must answer. We have the same inaccurate phraseology in The Winter's Tale:
“ I ne'er heard yet,
“ Than to perform it first.” Again, in Macbeth:
“ Who cannot want the thought, how monsterous
“ To kill their gracious father?” Again, in King Lear, Act II, sc. iv:
“ I have hope,
“ Than she to scant her duty.”
The passage in North's translation of Plutarch, which Shakspeare has here copied, shows that, however inaccurate, the text is not corrupt : “ When he had sayd these words, he went into a chamber, and unarmed himselfe, and being naked say'd thus: O Cleopatra, it grieveth me not that I have lost thy companie, for I will not be long from thee; but I am sorrie that having been so great a captaine and emperour, I am indeede condemned to be judged of lesse corage and noble MINDE than a woman.” Instead of “ to be judged of less,” which applies equally well to courage, and to mind, Shakspeare substituted the word lack, which is applicable to courage, but cannot without a solecism be connected with “less noble mind.” Malone.
“ Condemn myself to lack,” &c. however licentiously, may have been employed to signify-condemn myself for lacking even the courage of a woman.
To mind, in this instance, may be a verb, signifying to intend, incline, or be disposed. So, in Spenser's State of Ireland: “ When one of them mindeth to go into rebellion, he will convey away all his lordships” &c. Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad :
“ As for me ; be sure, I mind no harme
“ To thy grave person.” Again, in the Third Part of our author's King Henry VI:
“ Belike, she minds to play the Amazon.”
That, when the exigent should come, (which now
The gods withhold me!
I would not see 't.
0, sir, pardon me. Ant. When I did make thee free, swor'st thou not then
“But if you mind to hold your true obedience —.” There may still, however, remain a slight corruption, viz. noble instead of nobly. I would therefore read
- condemn myself to lack
Than she, &c. .
6 pleachd arms, 1 Arms folded in each other. Yohnson.
A passage very like this occurs in Thomas Kyd's translation of Robert Garnier's Cornelia, published in 1594:
“ Now shalt thou march (thy hands fast bound behind
thee,) “ Thy head hung down, thy cheeks with tears besprent, “ Before the victor; while thy rebel son
“With crowned front triumphing follows thee.” Steevens. . 7 His corrigible neck,] Corrigible for corrected, and afterwards penetrative for penetrating. So Virgil has “ penetrabile frigus” for " penetrans frigus,” in his Georgicés. Steevens.
8 His baseness that ensued?] The poor conquered wretch that followed. Johnson.
9 When I did make thee free, &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: “ Now he had a man of his called Eros, whom he
To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once;
Eros. Turn from me then that noble countenance,
[Turning from him. Ero8. My sword is drawn. Ant.
Then let it do at once
My dear master,
Ant. 'Tis said, man;mand farewel.
Now, Eros. Eros. Why, there then :-[Falls on his Sword.] Thus
do I escape the sorrow
Thrice nobler than myself!
loued and trusted much, and whom he had long before caused to sweare ynto him, that he should kill him when he did commaunde him: and then he willed him to keepe his promise. His man drawing his sworde, lift it vp as though he had ment to haue striken his maister: but turning his head at one side, he thrust his sword into him selfe, and fell downe dead at his maister's foote. Then said Antonius, O noble Eros, I thanke thee for this, and it is valiantly done of thee, to show me what I should do to my selfe, which thou couldest not doe for me. Therewithall he tooke his sword, and thrust it into his bellie, and so fell downe vpon a little bed. The wounde he had, killed him not presently, for the blood stinted a little when he was layed: and when he came somewhat to him selfe againe, he praied them that were about him to dispatch him. But they all fed out of the chamber, and left him crying out and tormenting him selfe: vntil at last there came a secretarie vnto him called Diomedes, who was commaunded to bring him into the tombe or monument where Cleopatra was. When he heard that she was aliue, he verie earnestlie prayed his men to carie his bodie thither, and so he was caried in his men's armes into the entry of the monument.” Steevens
1— the worship of the whole world -] The worship, is the dignity, the authority. Johnson. So, in King Fohn:
“By giving it the worship of revenge.” Steevens:
Have, by their brave instruction, got upon me
[Falling on his Sword. I learn'd of thee. How! not yet dead ?3 not dead? The guard!-ho!4-0, despatch me.
Enter DERCETAS and Guard. I Guard.
What 's the noise?
2_ But I will be
A bridegroom in my death, &c.] This thought has occurred before in Measure for Measure :
“I will encounter darkness as a bride,
“ And hug it in my arms.” Dryden's Don Sebastian has the same image, though more luxuriantly expressed:
« The sprightly bridegroom on his wedding night
“ Why, 'tis enjoyment to be summon'd thus.” Steevens. Stowe; describing the execution of Sir Charles Davers, one of the Earl of Essex's associates, says, that “having put off his gown and doublet in a most cheerful manner, rather like a bride, groom than a prisoner appointed for death, he prayed very de. voutly.” Malone.
3 - not yet dead?] Yet, which is wanting in the old copy, was supplied by Mr. Pope. Steevens.
4 The guard.!-ho!] [Old copy-guard how.] I suspect the poet wrote:
The guard, ho! O, despatch me! So, afterwards :
“ What, ho! the emperor's guard!”
" Authority melts from me. Of late, when I cried ho,
“ And cry, your will ?"
“ Queen. Help, how!
“ Pol. What how, help.” Again, in the last Act:
“O villainy! how, let the door be lock'd." The emendation which I have proposed, ought therefore cer. tainty to be admitted into the text. Malone.
I find this emendation already admitted into the text of edition 1785. Steevens.
Ant. I have done my work ill, friends: O, make an end Of what I have begun. 2 Guard.
The star is fallen.
Alas, and woe! Ant. Let him that loves me, strike me dead. 1 Guard.
Not I. 2 Guard. Nor I. 3 Guard. Nor any one.
There, Diomed, there.
Lives he? Wilt thou not answer, man?
[Exit DERCETAS. Ant. Art thou there, Diomed? Draw thy sword, and
give me Sufficing strokes for death. Dio.
Most absolute lord,
Ant. When did she send thee?
Now, my lord.
Where is she? Dio. Lock'd in her monument. She had a phrophesy
ing fears. Of what hath come to pass: for when she saw (Which never shall be found) you did suspect She had dispos'd with Cæsar, and that your rage Would not be purg'd, she sent you word she was dead; But, fearing since how it might work, hath sent Me to proclaim the truth; and I am come, I dread, too late. Ant. Too late, good Diomed:-Call my guard, I
pr’ythee. Dio. What, ho! the emperor's guard! The guardo
5- a prophesying fear -] I suppose our author designed we should read:
- a prophet's fear ” Steevens. 6 She had dispos'd with Cesar,] To dispose, in this instance, perhaps signifies to make terms, to settle matters. Steevens: