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And quietness, grown sick of rest, would purge
Is Fulvia's death.
CLEO. Though age from folly could not give me freedom,
It does from childishness :-Can Fulvia die?
Look here, and, at thy sovereign leisure, read
7 — should SAFE my going,] i. e. should render my going not dangerous, not likely to produce any mischief to you. Mr. Theobald, instead of safe, the reading of the old copy, unnecessarily reads salve. MALONE.
safe my going, is the true reading. So, in a subsequent scene, a soldier says to Enobarbus:
Best you safed the bringer
"Out of the host."
8 It does from childishness :-Can Fulvia die ?] That Fulvia was mortal, Cleopatra could have no reason to doubt; the meaning therefore of her question seems to be: "Will there ever be an end of your excuses? As often as you want to leave me, will not some Fulvia, some new pretext be found for your departure?" She has already said that though age could not exempt her from follies, at least it frees her from a childish belief in all he says. STEEVENS.
I am inclined to think, that Cleopatra means no more thanIs it possible that Fulvia should die? I will not believe it.
Though age has not exempted me from folly, I am not so childish, as to have apprehensions from a rival that is no more. And is Fulvia dead indeed? Such, I think, is the meaning.
9 The GARBOILS she awak'd ;] i. e. the commotion she occasioned. The word is used by Heywood, in The Rape of Lucrece, 1638:
thou Tarquin, dost alone survive, "The head of all those garboiles."
Again, by Stanyhurst, in his translation of the first book of Virgil's Eneid, 1582:
"Now manhood and garboils I chaunt and martial horror.”
O most false love! Where be the sacred vials thou should'st fill With sorrowful water2? Now I see, I see, In Fulvia's death, how mine receiv'd shall be. ANT. Quarrel no more, but be prepar'd to know The purposes I bear; which are, or cease, As you shall give the advice: By the fire3, That quickens Nilus' slime, I go from hence, Thy soldier, servant; making peace, or war, As thou affect'st.
CLEO. Cut my lace, Charmian, come ;— But let it be. I am quickly ill, and well: So Antony loves *.
Again, in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 1607: " Days of mourning by continuall garboiles were, however, numbered and encreased." The word is derived from the old French garbouil, which Cotgrave explains by huriyburly, great stir. STEEVENS.
In Cawdrey's Alphabetical Table of Hard Words, 8vo. 1604, garboile is explained by the word hurlyburly. MALONE.
- at the last, best:] This conjugal tribute to the memory of Fulvia, may be illustrated by Malcolm's eulogium on the thane of Cawdor:
nothing in his life
"Became him, like the leaving it." STEEVENS.
Surely it means her death was the best thing I have known of her, as it checked her garboils. BOSWELL.
2 O most false love!
Where be the sacred vials thou should'st fill
With sorrowful water?] Alluding to the lachrymatory vials, of bottles of tears, which the Romans sometimes put into the urn of a friend. JOHNSON.
So, in the first Act of The Two Noble Kinsmen, said to be written by Fletcher, in conjunction with Shakspeare :
"Balms and gums, and heavy cheers,
3-Now, by the fire, &c.] Some word, in the old copies, being here wanting to the metre, I have not scrupled to insert the adverb-Now, on the authority of the following passage in King John, as well as on that of many others in the different pieces of our author:
"Now, by the sky that hangs above our heads,
So Antony loves.] i. e. uncertain as the state of my health is the love of Antony. STEEVENS.
I believe Mr. Steevens is right; yet before I read his note, I
My precious queen, forbear; And give true evidence to his love, which stands
An honourable trial.
So Fulvia told me.
You'll heat my blood: no more.
And target,-Still he mends; But this is not the best: Look, pr'ythee, Charmian, How this Herculean Roman" does become
The carriage of his chafe.
ANT. I'll leave you, lady. CLEO. Courteous lord, one word. Sir, you and I must part,—but that's not it: Sir, you and I have lov'd, —but there's not it; That you know well: Something it is I would,— O, my oblivion is a very Antony, And I am all forgotten'.
*First folio, Now by sword.
thought the meaning to be-" My fears quickly render me ill; and I am as quickly well again, when I am convinced that Antony has an affection for me." So, for so that. If this be the true sense of the passage, it ought to be regulated thus: "I am quickly ill,—and well again, "So Antony loves."
Thus, in a subsequent scene:
I would, thou didst ;
"So half my Egypt were submerg'd." MALONE,
to Egypt:] To me, the Queen of Egypt. JOHNSON. HERCULEAN Roman-] Antony traced his descent from Anton, a son of Hercules. STEEVENS.
7 O, my oblivion is a very Antony,
And I am all forgotten.] Cleopatra has something to say, which seems to be suppressed by sorrow; and after many attempts to produce her meaning, she cries out: "O, this oblivious memory of mine is as false and treacherous to me as Antony is, and I
But that your royalty
forget every thing." Oblivion, I believe, is boldly used for a memory apt to be deceitful.
If too much latitude be taken in this explanation, we might with little violence read, as Mr. Edwards has proposed in his MS. notes: '
"Oh me! oblivion is a very Antony," &c. STEEVENS. Perhaps nothing more is necessary here than a change of punctuation; O my! being still an exclamation frequently used in the West of England. HENLEY.
"Oh my!" in the provincial sense of it, is only an imperfect exclamation of-" Oh my God!" The decent exclaimer always stops before the sacred name is pronounced. Could such an exclamation therefore have been uttered by the Pagan Cleopatra ? STEEVENS.
The sense of the passage appears to me to be this: "O, my oblivion, as if it were another Antony, possesses me so entirely, that I quite forget myself." M. MASON.
I have not the smallest doubt that Mr. Steevens's explanation of this passage is just. Dr. Johnson says, that "it was her memory, not her oblivion, that like Antony, was forgetting and deserting her." It certainly was; it was her oblivious memory, as Mr. Steevens has well interpreted it; and the licence is much in our author's manner. MALONE.
8 But that your royalty
Holds idleness your subject, I should take you
For idleness itself.] i. e. But that your charms hold me, who am the greatest fool on earth, in chains, I should have adjudged you to be the greatest. That this is the sense is shown by her answer:
""Tis sweating labour,
"To bear such idleness so near the heart,
Dr. Warburton's explanation is a very coarse one. may be :-But that your queenship chooses idleness for the subject of your conversation, I should take you for idleness itself. So Webster, (who was often a close imitator of Shakspeare,) in his Vittoria Corombona, 1612:
how idle am I
"To question my own idleness!"
Or an antithesis may be designed between royalty and subject.— But that I know you to be a queen, and that your royalty holds
"Tis sweating labour,
To bear such idleness so near the heart,
ANT. Let us go. Come; Our separation so abides, and flies, That thou, residing here', go'st yet with me, And I, hence fleeting, here remain with thee. Away.
idleness in subjection to you, exalting you far above its influence, I should suppose you to be the very genius of idleness itself.
Mr. Steevens's latter interpretation is, I think, nearer the truth. But perhaps your subject rather means, whom being in subjection. to you, you can command at pleasure," to do your bidding," to assume the airs of coquetry, &c. Were not this coquet one of your attendants, I should suppose you yourself were this capricious being. MALONE.
9 Since my BECOMINGS kill me,] There is somewhat of obscurity in this expression. In the first scene of the play Antony had called her
"Whom every thing becomes."
It is to this, perhaps, that she alludes. Or she may meanThat conduct, which, in my own opinion, becomes me, as often as it appears ungraceful to you, is a shock to my sensibility.
LAUREL'D victory!] Thus the second folio. The inaccurate predecessor of it-laurel victory. STEEVENS.
This was the language of Shakspeare's time. I have adhered to the old reading. MALONE.
2 That thou, residing here, &c.] This conceit might have been suggested by the following passage in Sidney's Arcadia, book i.: "She went they staid; or, rightly for to say,
"She staid with them, they went in thought with her." Thus also, in The Mercator of Plautus: "Si domi sum, foris est animus; sin foris sum, animus domi est." STEEVENS.