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My musick playing far off, I will betray
'Twas merry, when
That time!-O times !
Enter a Messenger.
9 Tawny-finn'd fishes ;] The first copy reads :
Tawny fine fishes." Johnson. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone.
Did hang a salt-fish, &c.] This circumstance is likewise taken from Sir Thomas North's translation of the life of Antony in Plutarch. STEEVENS.
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 à 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 Aattery, 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.
THEOBALD. 3 RAM thou thy fruitful tidings —] Shakspeare probably
That long time have been barren.
Mess. First, madam, he is well.
Why, there's more gold. But, sirrah, mark, we use
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 :
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:
“ 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 Julius Cæsar does not support the old reading at all, the idea being perfectly distinct. Ritson. Ramm’d, however, occurs in King John : “ 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,
To say, the dead are well : bring it to that,
Mess. Good madam, hear me.
Well, go to, I will ;
snakes, Not like a formal man. Mess.
Will't please you hear me ? CLEO. I have a mind to strike thee, ere thou
speak’st : Yet, if thou say, Antony lives, is well, Or friends with Cæsar?, or not captive to him,
-WHY SO tart a favour 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 run thus :
“ To usher,” &c. I have availed myself of this necessary expletive, which I find also in Sir Thomas Hanmer's edition. STEVENS.
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 :
devil assum'd thee formally.”
MALONE; We surely should read—is well. The Messenger is to have
I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Madam, he's well.
Well said. Mess. And friends with Cæsar. CLEO.
Thou'rt an honest man. Mess. Cæsar and he are greater friends than
ever. CLEO. Make thee a fortune from me. MESS.
But yet, madam,Cleo. I do not like but yet, it does allay The good precedence'; fye upon but yet: But yet is as a gaoler to bring forth Some monstrous malefactor. Pr’ythee, friend, Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear, The good and bad together: He's friends with
Cæsar ; In state of health, thou say'st; and, thou say'st,
free. Mess. Free, madam! no; I made no such re
port : He's bound unto Octavia. 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 Timer-buc, or Tamerlane, written by a Persian contemporary author, are the following words, as translated by Mons. Petit de la Croix, 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. 9 – it does allay
The good precedence ;] i. e. abates the good quality of what is already reported. Steevens. ! - THE pack -] A late editor (Mr. Capell] reads—thy pack.
For what good turn ? Mess. For the best turn i' the bed. Cleo.
I am pale, Charmian. Mess. Madam, he's married to Octavia. Cleo. The most infectious pestilence upon thee!
[Strikes him down. Mess. 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.
Gracious madam, I, that do bring the news, made not the match.
Cleo. Say, 'tis not so, a province I will give thee, And make thy fortunes proud : the blow thou hadst Shall make thy peace, for moving me to rage; And I will boot thee with what gift beside Thy modesty can beg Mess.
He's married, madam. Cleo. Rogue, thou hast liv'd too long.
[Draws a Dagger? Mess.
Nay, then I'll run : What mean you, madam ? I have made no fault.
[Exit. CHAR. Good madam, keep yourself within your
self; The man is innocent.
? - Draws a Dagger.] The old copy-Draw a Knife.
Steevens. See' vol. xi. p. 65. MALONE.
3 — keep yourself within yourself ;] i. e. contain yourself, restrain your passion within bounds. So, in The Taming of the Shrew :