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Enter, to the Gates of the Monument, PROCULEIUS, GAL:
LUS, and Soldiers. Pro. Cæsar sends greeting to the queen of Egypt; And bids thee study on what fair demands Thou mean'st to have him grant thee. Cleo. [within
What's thy name?
Be of good cheer;
Pray you, tell him
And Mr. Tollet observes, “that in Herodotus, B. III, the Æthiopian king, upon hearing a description of the nature of wheat, replied, that he was not at all surprized, if men, who eat nothing but Jung, did not attain a longer life.” Shakspeare has the same epithet in The Winter's Tale :
“ the face to sweeten
« Of the whole dungy earth.” , Again, in Timon:
“ the earth 's a thief
" From general excrement." Steevens. 4 He gives me so much of mine own, as I
Will kneel to him with thanks.] I would read and I, instead of as I. M. Mason. I believe the old reading to be the true one. Steevens.
that will pray in aid for kindness.] Praying in aid is a term used for a petition made in a court of justice for the calling in of help from another that hath an interest in the cause in ques: tion. Hanmer.
I am his fortune's vassal, and I send him
This I 'll report, dear lady.
the Monument by a Ladder placed against a Window, and having descended, come behind CLEOPATRA. Some of the Guard unbar and open the Gates.?
6 send him
The greatness he has got.] I allow him to be my conqueror; I own his superiority with complete submission. Fohnson. A kindred idea seems to occur in The Teon pest:
“ Then, as my gift, and thy own acquisition,
" Worthily purchas'd, take my daughter." Steevens. Johnson has mistaken the meaning of this passage, nor will the words bear the construction he gives them. It appears to me, that by the greatness he has got, she means her crown which he has won; and I suppose that when she pronounces these words, she delivers to Proculeius either her crown, or some other ensign of royalty. M. Mason.
7 In the old copy there is no stage-direction. That which is now inserted is formed on the old translation of Plutarch: “ Proculeius came to the gates that were very thicke and strong, and surely barred; but yet there were some cranews through the which her voyce might be heard, and so they without understood that Cleopatra demaunded the kingdome of Egypt for her sonnes: and that Proculeius aunswered her, that she should be of good cheere and not be affrayed to refer all unto Cæsar. After he had viewed the place very well, he came and reported her aunswere unto Cæsar: who immediately sent Gallus to speak once againe with her, and bad him purposely hold her with talk, whilst Proculeius did set up a ladder against that high windowe by the which Antonius was tresed up, and came down into the monument with two of his men hard by the gate, where Cleopatra stood to hear what Gallus said unto her. One of her women which was shut in her monument with her, sawe Proculeius by chaunce, as he came downe, and shreeked out, 0, poore Cleopatra, thou art taken. Then when she sawe Proculeius behind her as she came from the gate, she thought to have stabbed herself with a short dagger she wore of purpose by her side. But Proculeius came sodainly upon her, and taking her by both the hands, sayd unto her, Cleopatra, first thou shalt doe thy selfe great wrong, and secondly unto Cæsar, to deprive him of the occasion and opportunitie openlie to shew his vauntage and mercie, and to give
Guard her till Cæsar come.8
TT. PROCULEIUS and the Guard. Exit GALLUS.
his enemies cause to accuse the most courteous and noble prince that ever was, and to appeache him as though he were a cruel and mercilesse man, that were not to be trusted. So, even as he spake the word, he tooke her dagger from her, and shooke her clothes for feare of any poyson hidden about her.” Malone. 8 Gal. You see how easily she may be surpriz'd;
Guard her till Cæsar come.] [Mr. Rowe (and Mr. Pope foltowed him) allotted this speech to Charmian.] This blunder was for want of knowing, or observing, the historical fact. When Cæsar sent Proculeius to the queen, he sent Gallus after him with new instructions; and while one amused Cleopatra with propositions from Cæsar, through the crannies of the monument, the other scaled it by a ladder, entered it at a window backward, and made Cleopatra, and those with her, prisoners. I have reformed the passage, therefore, (as, I am persuaded, the author designed it,) from the authority of Plutarch. [Mr. Theo. bald gives you see how easily &c. to Gallus; and Guard her &c. to Proculeius.] Theobald.
This line, in the first edition, is given to Proculeius; and to him it certainly belongs, though perhaps misplaced. I would put it at the end of his foregoing speech:
Where he for grace is kneed to.
[Aside to Gallus.] You see how easily she may be surpriz'd; Then, while Cleopatra makes a formal answer, Gallus, upon the hint given, seizes her, and Proculeius, interrupting the civility of his answer:
your plight is pitied
Of him that caus’d it. cries out:
Guard her till Cesar come. Johnson. To this speech, as well as the preceding, Pro. [i. e. Procu. leius] is prefixed in the old copy. It is clear, from the passage quoted from Plutarch in the following note, that this was an error of the compositor's at the press, and that it belongs to Gallus; who, after Proculeius hath, according to his suggestion, ascended the monument, goes out to inform Cæsar that Cleopatra is taken. That Cæsar was informed immediately of Cleopatra's being taken, appears from Dolabella's first speech to Proculeius on his entry. See p. 387 :
“ What thou hast done, thy master Cæsar knows,” &e. This information, it is to be presumed, Cæsar obtained from Gallus.
The stage-directions being very imperfect in this scene in the old copy, no exit is here marked; but as Gallus afterwards enters along with Cæsar, it was undoubtedly the author's intention that he should here go out. In the modern editions, this, as well as the preceding speech, is given to Proculeius, though the
Iras. Royal queen!
Hold, worthy lady, hold:
S Seizes and disarms het. Do not yourself such wrong, who are in this Reliev’d, but not betray’d. Cleo.
po What, of death too,
Where art thou, death?
O, temperance, lady!
error in the old copy clearly shows that two speakers were ill. tended. Malone. 9 languish?] So, in Romeo and Juliet, Act I, sc. ii: “ One desperate grief cure with another's languish.”
Steevens. 1 Worth many babes and beggars !] Why, death, wilt thou not rather seize a queen, than employ thy force upon babes and beggars. Johnson. 2 If idle talk will once be necessary,
I'll not sleep neither:] I will not eat, and if it will be necessary now for once to waste a moment in idle talk of my purpose, I will not sleep neither. In common conversation we often use will be, with as little relation to futurity. As, Now I am going, it will be fit for me to dine first. Johnson. VOL. XIIL
My country's high pyramides my gibbet,3
Once may mean sometimes. Of this use of the word I have already given instances, both in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and King Henry VIII. The meaning of Cleopatra seems to be this: If idle talking be sometimes necessary to the prolongation of life, why I will not sleep for fear of talking idly in my sleep.
The sense designed, however, may be-If it be necessary, for once, to talk of performing impossibilities, why, I'll not sleep neither. I have little confidence, however, in these attempts, to produce a meaning from the words under consideration. Steevens.
The explications above given appear to me so unsatisfactory, and so little deducible from the words, that I have no doubt that a line has been lost after the word necessary, in which Cleopatra threatened to observe an obstinate silence. The line probably began with the words I'll, and the compositor's eye glancing on the same words in the line beneath, all that intervened was lost. See p. 293, n. 4; and p. 376, n. 7. So, in Othello, quarto, 1622, Act III, sc. i:
“ And needs no other suitor but his likings,
“ To bring you in.” In the folio the second line is omitted, by the compositor's eye, after the first word of it was composed, glancing on the same word immediately under it in the subsequent line, and then proceeding with that line instead of the other. This happens frequently at the press. The omitted line in the passage, which has given rise to the present note, might have been of this import :
Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir ;
I'll not sleep neither : This mortal house I'll ruin, &c. The words I'll not sleep neither, contain a new and distinct menace. I once thought that Shakspeare might have writtenI'll not speak neither; but in p. 395, Cæsar comforting Cleopatra, says, “ feed, and sleep;" which shows that sleep, in the passage before us, is the true reading. Malone. I agree that a line is lost, which I shall attempt to supply:
Sir, I will eat no meat, I'll not drink, sir ;
I will not speak; if sleep be necessary,]
I'll not sleep neither. The repetition of the word necessary may have occasioned the omission. Ritson.
3 My country's high pyramides my gibbet, ] The poet designed we should read-pyramides, Lat. instead of pyramids, and so the folio reads. The verse will otherwise be defective. Thus, in Doctor Faustus, 1604:
“ Besides the gates and high pyramides