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Your 'scutcheons, and your signs of conquest, shall
Cæs. You shall advise me in all for Cleopatra.
Cleo. This is the brief of money, plate, and jewels,
Sel. Here, madam.
Cleo. This is my treasurer; let him speak, my lord,
What have I kept back?
Ces. Nay, blush not, Cleopatra; I approve
See, Cæsar! O, behold,
9 You shall advise me in all for Cleopatra.] You shall yourself be my counsellor, and suggest whatever you wish to be done for your relief. So, afterwards:
“ For we intend so to dispose you, as
“ Yourself shall give us counsel.” Malone. 1- 'tis exactly valued;
Not petty things admitted.] Sagacious editors! Cleopatra gives in a list of her wealth, says, 'tis exactly valued; but that petty things are not admitted in this list: and then she appeals to her treasurer, that she has reserved nothing to herself. And when he betrays her, she is reduced to the shift of exclaiming against the ingratitude of servants, and of making apologies for having secreted certain trifles. Who does not see, that we ought to read:
Not petty things omitted ? For this declaration lays open her falsehood; and makes her angry, when her treasurer detects her in a direct lie. Theobald.
Notwithstanding the wrath of Mr. Theobald, I have restored the old reading. She is angry afterwards, that she is accused of having reserved more than petty things. Dr. Warburton and Sir Thomas Hanmer follow Theobald. Johnson.
2- seel my lips,] Sew up my mouth. Fohnson.
It means, close up my lips as effectually as the eyes of a hawk are closed. To seel hawks was the technical term. Steedens.
Than love that 's hired! What, goest thou back? thou
shalt Go back, I warrant thee; but I 'll catch thine eyes, Though they had wings: Slave, soul-less villain, dog! O rarely base !3 .
Cæs. Good queen, let us entreat you.
Cleo. O Cæsar, what a wounding shame is this;4
3 O rarely base ! ] i. e. base in an uncommon degree. Steevens.
4 O Cæsar, &c.] This speech of Cleopatra is taken from Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, where it stands as follows: “O Cæsar, is not this great shame and reproach, that thou having vouchsafed to take the pains to come unto me, and hast done me this honour, poor wretch and caitiff creature, brought into this pitiful and miserable estate, and that mine own servants should come now to accuse me. Though it may be that I have reserved some jewels and trifles meet for women, but not for me (poor soul) to set out myself withal; but meaning to give some pretty presents unto Octavia and Livia, that they making means and intercession for me to thee, thou mightest yet extend thy favour and mercy upon me,” &c. Steevens.
5 To one so meek,] Meek, I suppose, means here, tame, subdued by adversity. So, in the parallel passage in Plutarch: « poor wretch, and caitiff creature, brought into this pitiful and miserable estate -.” Cleopatra, in any other sense, was not eminent
for meekness. :: Our author has employed this word, in The Rape of Lucrece, in the same sense as here:
“ Feeble desire, all recreant, poor, and meek,
“ Like to a bankrupt beggar, wails his case." Malone. 6 Parcel the sum of my disgraces by] To parcel her disgraces, might be expressed in vulgar language, to bundle up her calamities. Fohnson.
The meaning, I think, either is, " that this fellow should add one more parcel or item to the sum of my disgraces, namely, his own malice ;” or, “that this fellow should tot up the sum of my disgraces, and add his own malice to the account.”
Parcel is here used technically. So, in King Henry IV, P. I:
That this fellow, [Francis, the drawer,] should have fewer words than a parrot! his eloquence the parcel of a reckoning." There it means, either an item, or the accumulated total formed by various items. Malone.
7 of his envy!] Envy is here, as almost always in these plays, malice. See Vol. XI, p. 240, n. 7. Malone.
That I some lady trifles have reserv’d,
Forbear, Seleucus. [Exit SEL. Cleo. Be it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought For things that others do; and, when we fall,
8 modern friends -] Modern means here, as it generally does in these plays, common or ordinary.' M. Mason. So, in As you Like it:
“ Full of wise saws and modern instances." See Vol. V, p. 59, n. 4. Steevens.
9 With one -] With, in the present instance, has the power of by. So, in The Lover's Progress of Beaumont and Fletcher: " And courted with felicity.” Steevens.
3 Through the ashes of my chance:] Or fortune. The meaning is, Begone, or I shall exert that royal spirit which I had in my prosperity, in spite of the imbecility of my present weak condi. tion. This taught the Oxford editor to alter it to mischance.
Warburton. We have had already in this play " the wounded chance of Antony.” Malone.
Or I shall show the cinders of my spirits
Through the ashes of my chance : ] Thus Chaucer, in his CanYerbury Tales' Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 3180:
“ Yet in our ashen cold is fire yreken.” And thus (as the learned editor has observed) Mr. Gray, in his Church-Yard Elegy:
“Even in our ashes live their wonted fires." Mr. Gray refers to the following passage in the 169 (171) Sonnet of Petrarch, as his original :
“ Ch'i veggio nel pensier, dolce mio foco,
“ Rimaner dopo noi pien di faville.” Edit. 1564, p. 271. Thus also Sidney, in his Arcadia, Lib. 3:' “ In ashes of despaire (though burnt) shall make thee live."
Steevens. Again, in our author's 73d Sonnet :
“ In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
We answer others' merits in our name,
Cleo. My master, and my lord!
Not so: Adieu.
[Excunt Cæs. and his Train. Cleo. He words me, girls, he words me, that I should
Be noble to myself: but hark thee, Charmian.
2 Be it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought
For things that others do; and, when we fall,
Are therefore to be pitied.] We suffer at our highest state of elevation in the thoughts of mankind for that which others do; and when we fall, those that contented themselves only to think ill before, call us to answer in our own names for the merits of others. We are therefore to be pitied. Merits is in this place taken in an ill sense, for actions meriting censure. Johnson.
The plain meaning is this: The greatest of us are aspersed for things which others do : and when, by the decline of our power, we become in a condition to be questioned, we are called to answer in our own names for the actions of other people.
Merit is here used, as the word desert frequently is, to express a certain degree of merit or demerit. A man may merit punishment as well as reward. M. Mason.
As demerits was often used, in Shakspeare's time, as synonymous to merit, so merit might have been used in the sense which we now affix to demerit; or the meaning may be only, we are called to account, and to answer in our own names for acts, with which others, rather than we, deserve to be charged. Malone. 3 Make not your thoughts your prisons :) I once wished to read
Make not your thoughts your poison: Do not destroy yourself by musing on your misfortune. Yet I would change nothing, as the old reading presents a very proper sense. Be not a prisoner in imagination, when in reality you are free. Johnson.
Iras. Finish, good lady; the bright day is done,
Hie thee again:
Madam, I will.
Re-enter DOLABELLA. ·
Behold, sir. [Exit Char. Cleo.
I your servant.
what think'st thou?
The gods forbid!
4_ and scald rhymers
“ And sung by children in succeeding times.” Malone. Scald was a word of contempt implying poverty, disease, and filth. Fohnson.
So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Evans calls the host of the Garter “scald, scurvy companion;" and in King Henry V, Fluellen bestows the same epithet on Pistol. Steevens. 5 — the quick comedians -] The gay inventive players.