Page images
PDF
EPUB

all follow him laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight; good Isis, I beseech thee !

Iras. Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people! for, as it is a heart-breaking to see a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded : Therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune him accordingly!

CHAR. Amen.

Alex. Lo, now! if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but they'd do't.

Exo. Hush ! here comes Antony.
CHAR.

Not he, the queen.
Enter CLEOPATRA.
Cleo. Saw you my lord ? ?
Eno.

No, lady. CLEO.

Was he not here? Char. No, madam. Cleo. He was dispos'd to mirth; but on the

sudden A Roman thought hath struck him.--Enobarbus,

Evo. Madam.
Cleo. Seek him, and bring him hither. Where's

Alexas ?
Alex. Here ®, at your service.-My lord ap-

proaches.

7 Saw you my lord?] Old copy-Save you. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Saw was formerly written suiwe.

MALONE. 8 Here, madam,] The respect due from Alexas to his mistress, in my opinion, points out the title - Madam, (which is wanting in the old copy,) as a proper cure for the present defect in metre.

Steevens.

Enter Antony, with a Messenger and Attendants. Cleo. We will not look upon him : Go with us. [Exeunt CLEOPATRA, ENOBARBUS, ALEXAS,

IRAS, CHARMIAN, Soothsayer, and At

tendants. Mess. Fulvia thy wife first came into the field. Ant. Against my brother Lucius ?

Mess. Ay:
But soon that war had end, and the time's state
Made friends of them, jointing their force 'gainst

Cæsar;
Whose better issue in the war, from Italy,
Upon the first encounter drave them'.
ANT.

Well, what worst? Mess. The nature of bad news infects the teller. Ant. When it concerns the fool, or coward.

On: Things, that are past, are done, with me.—'Tis

thus;

Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death,
I hear him as he flatter'd.
MESS.

Labienus (This is stiff news') hath, with his Parthian force, Extended Asia from Euphrătes ? ;

9 — DRAve them.) Drave is the ancient preterite of the verb to drive, and frequently occurs in the Bible. Thus, in Joshua, xxiv. 12: “ — and drave them out from before you." Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad :

to chariot he arose,

Drare forth." STEVENS.
(This is stiff news)] So, in The Rape of Lucrece:
Fearing some hard news from the warlike band.”

MALONE. 2 Extended Asia from Euphrătes;] i. e. widened or extended the bounds of the Lesser Asia. WARBURTON.

To extend, is a term used for to seize ; I know not whether this be not the sense here. Johnson.

His conquering banner shook, from Syria
To Lydia, and to lönia ;
Whilst-

Ant. Antony, thou would'st say, -
Mess.

O, my lord ! Ant. Speak to me home, mince not the general

tongue; Name Cleopatra as she's call'd in Rome : Rail thou in Fulvia's phrase; and taunt my faults With such full licence, as both truth and malice Have power to utter. O, then we bring forth

weeds,

tioner says :

[ocr errors]

I believe Dr. Johnson's explanation is right. So, in Selimus, Emperor of the Turks, 1594:

Ay, though on all the world we make extent,

“ From the south pole unto the northern bear.” Again, in Twelfth-Night:

“ This uncivil and unjust extent

“ Against thy peace." Again, in Massinger's New Way to Pay Old Debts, the Extor

“ This manor is extended to my use.” Mr. Tollet has likewise no doubt but that Dr. Johnson's explanation is just ; “ for (says he) Plutarch informs us that Labienus was by the Parthian king made general of his troops, and had over-run Asia from Euphrates and Syria to Lydia and lonia." To extend is a law term used for to seize lands and tenements. In support of his assertion he adds the following instance : “ Those wasteful companions had neither lands to extend nor goods to be seized.” Savile's translation of Tacitus, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. And then observes, that “Shakspeare knew the legal signification of the term, as appears from a passage in As You Like It:

“ And let my officers of such a nature

“ Make an extent upon his house and lands.” See vol. vi. p. 416.

Our ancient English writers almost always give us Euphrătes instead of Euphrates. Thus, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 21:

“ That gliding go in state, like swelling Euphorătes." See note on Cymbeline, Act III. Sc. III. Steevens.

When our quick minds lie still’; and our ills told us, Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.

[ocr errors]

3 When our quick winds lie still ;] The sense is, that man, not agitated by censure, like soil not ventilated by quick winds, produces more evil than good. Johnson.

An idea, somewhat similar, occurs also in the The First Part of King Henry IV.: the cankers of a calm world and a long peace.Again, in The Puritan : “ - hatched and nourished in the idle calms of peace.” Again, and yet more appositely, in King Henry VI. Part III. :

“ For what doth cherish weeds, but gentle air?" Dr. Warburton has proposed to read minds. It is at least a conjecture that deserves to be mentioned.

Dr. Johnson, however, might, in some degree, have countenanced his explanation by a singular epithet, that occurs twice in the Iliad—aveu Otpecès; literally, wind-nourished. In the first instance, 1. xi. 256, it is applied to the tree of which a spear had been made ; in the second, 1. xv. 625, to a wave, impelled upon a ship. Steevens.

I suspect that quick winds is, or is a corruption of, some provincial word, signifying either arable lands, or the instruments of husbandry used in tilling them. Earing signifies plowing both here and in p. 204. So, in Genesis, c. xlv.: “ Yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.”

BLACKSTONE. This conjecture is well founded. The ridges left in lands turned up by the plough, that they may sweeten during their fallow state, are still called wind-rows. Quick winds, I suppose to be the same as teeming fallows ; for such fallows are always fruitful in weeds.

Wind-rows likewise signify heaps of manure, consisting of dung or lime mixed up with virgin earth, and distributed in long rows nnder hedges. If these wind-rows are suffered to lie still, in two senses, the farmer must fare the worse for his want of activity. First, if this compost be not frequently turned over, it will bring forth weeds spontaneously; secondly, if it be suffered to continue where it is made, the fields receive no benefit from it, being fit only in their turn to produce a crop of useless and obnoxious herbage. Steevens.

Mr. Steevens's description of wind-rows will gain him, I fear, but little reputation with the husbandman ; nor, were it more accurate, does it appear to be in point, unless it can be shown that quick winds and wind-rows are synonymous ; and, further, that his interpretation will suit with the context. Dr. Johnson hath con

Mess. At your noble pleasure.

[Exit. Ant. From Sicyon how the news ? Speak there.

sidered the position as a general one, which indeed it is; but being made by Antony, and applied to himself, he, figuratively, is the idle soil ; the milice that speaks home, the quick, or cutting winds, whose frosty blasts destroy the profusion of weeds; whilst our ills (that is the truth faithfully) told us; a representation of our vices in their naked odiousness—" is as our earing ; " serves to plough up the neglected soil, and enable it to produce a profitable crop.

When the quick winds lie still, that is, in a mild winter, those weeds which “ the tyrannous breathings of the north" would have cut off, will continue to grow and seed, to the no small detriment of the crop to follow. Henley.

Whether my definition of winds or wind-rows be exact or erroneous, in justice to myself I must inform Mr. Henley, that I received it from an Essex farmer; observing, at the same time, that in different counties the same terms are differently applied.

STEEVENS. The words lie still are opposed to earing ; quick means pregnant; and the sense of the passage is : “ When our pregnant minds lie idle and untilled, they bring forth weeds; but the telling us of our faults is a kind of culture to them.” The pronoun our before quick, shows that the substantive to which it refers must be something belonging to us, not merely an external object, as the wind is. To talk of quick winds lying still, is little better than nonsense.

M. Mason. The words—lie still, appear to have been technically used by those who borrow their metaphors from husbandry. Thus Ascham, in bis Toxophilus, edit. 1589, p. 32: “ as a grounde which is apt for corne, &c. if a man let it lye still, &c. if it be wheate it will turne into rye.” SteeveNS.

Dr. Johnson thus explains the old reading :

" The sense is, that man, not agitated by censure, like soil not ventilated by quick winds, produces more evil than good." This certainly is true of soil, but where did Dr. Johnson find the word soil in this passage? He found only winds, and was forced to substitute soil ventilated by winds in the room of the word in the old copy; as Mr. Steevens, in order to extract a meaning from it, supposes winds to mean fallows, because “the ridges left in lands turned up by the plough, are termed wind-rows ; ” though surely the obvious explication of the latter word, rows exposed to the wind, is the true one. Hence the rows of new-mown grass laid in heaps to dry, are also called wind-rows.

The emendation which I have arlopted, and which was made by Dr. Warburton, makes all perfectly ciear; for if in Dr. Johnson's

« PreviousContinue »