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Or murmuring, Where's my serpent of old Nile?
Enter Alexas. Alex.
Sovereign of Egypt, hail ! Cleo. How much unlike art thou Mark Antony ! Yet, coming from him, that great medicine hath With his tinct gilded thee.3 - delicious poison :) Hence, perhaps, Pope's Eloisa :
“ Still drink delicious poison from thine eye.” Steevens. 4 — Broad-fronted Cæsar,) Mr. Seward is of opinion, that the poet wrote-“bald-fronted Cæsar." The compound epithet
-“ broad-fronted," occurs however in the tenth book of Chapman's version of the Iliad :
“ —a heifer most select,
year old." STEVENS.
With his tinct gilded thee.] Alluding to the philosopher's stone, which, by its touch, converts base metal into gold. The Alchemists call the matter, whatever it be, by which they perform transmutation, a medicine. Johnson. Thus Chapman, in his Shadow of Night, 1594 :
“O then, thou great elixir of all treasures.” And on this passage he has the following note: “ The philosopher's stone, or philosophica medicina, is called the great Elixir, to which he here alludes.” Thus, in The Chanones Yemannes Tale of Chaucer, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 16,330: VOL. XII.
goes it with my brave Mark Antony ?
Cleo. Mine ear must pluck it thence.
Good friend, quoth he,
the philosophre's stone, “ Elixir cleped, we seken fast eche on.” See Tempest, last Scene, near the end. Steevens.
? - arm-gaunt,) i. e. his steed worn lean and thin by much service in war.
So, Fairfax :
WARBURTON. On this note Mr. Edwards has been very lavish of his pleasantry, and indeed has justly censured the misquotation of stallworn, for stall-worth, which means strong, but makes no attempt to explain the word in the play. Mr. Seward, in his preface to Beaumont and Fletcher, has very elaborately endeavoured to prove, that an arm-gaunt steed is a steed with lean shoulders. Arm is the Teutonick word for want, or poverty. Arm-gaunt may be therefore an old word, signifying, lean for want, ill fed. Edwards's observation, that a worn-out horse is not proper for Atlas to mount in battle, is impertinent; the horse here mentioned seems to be a post-horse, rather than a war-horse. Yet as armgaunt seems not intended to imply any defect, it perhaps means, a horse so slender that a man might clasp him, and therefore formed for expedition. Hanmer reads :
arm-girt steed.” Johnson. On this passage, which I believe to be corrupt, I have nothing satisfactory to propose. It is clear that whatever epithet was used, it was intended as descriptive of a beautiful horse, such (we may presume) as our author has described in his Venus and Adonis.
Dr. Johnson must have looked into some early edition of Mr. Edwards's book, for in his seventh edition he has this note : “I have sometimes thought, that the meaning may possibly be,
Who neigh’d so high, that what I would have spoke Was beastly dumb'd by him.
thin-shoulder'd, by a strange composition of Latin and English: "gaunt quoad armos. Malone.
I suppose there must be some error in the passage, and should amend it by reading :
And soberly did mount a termagant steed,
“ That neigh'd, " &c. Termagant means furious. So Douglas, in Henry IV. is called the termagant Scot, an epithet that agrees well with the steed's neighing so high. Besides, by saying that Artony mounted composedly a horse of such mettle, Alexas presents Cleopatra with a flattering image of her hero, which his mounting slowly a jaded post-horse, would not have done. M. Mason.
When I first met with Mr. Mason's conjecture, I own I was startled at its boldness; but that I have since been reconciled to it, its appearance in the present text of Shakspeare will sufficiently prove.
It ought to be observed, in defence of this emendation, that the word termagaunt (originally the proper name of a clamorous Saracenical deity) did not, without passing through several gradations of meaning, become appropriated (as at present) to a turbulent female. I may add, that the sobriety displayed by Antony in mounting a steed of temper so opposite, reminds us of a similar contrast in Addison's celebrated comparison of the Angel :
“ Calm and serene he drives the furious blast.' Let the critick who can furnish a conjecture nearer than termagaunt to the traces of the old reading arm-gaunt, or can make any change productive of sense more apposite and commodious, displace Mr. M. Mason's amendment, which, in my opinion, is to be numbered among the feliciter audentia of criticism, and meets at least with my own unequivocal approbation. Steevens.
If Sir Thomas Hanmer's emendation" arm-girt" should not be adopted, I know not what to make of this difficult passage. Till some instance shall be produced of the epithet termagant being applied to a steed, I apprehend Mr. Steevens will have few followers in the sanction he has given to this wild alteration; which would at the same time destroy the measure of the verse. May I be permitted to throw out a conjecture, as to which I myself have no great confidence. Gaunt is certainly thin; but as it is generally used in speaking of animals made savage by hunger, such as a gaunt wolf, a gaunt mastiff, it is possible that it may derivatively have acquired the sense of fierce, and an arm-gaunt steed may signify a steed looking fierce in armour. The reader need scarcely be informed that formerly the horse was often proCleo.
What, was he sad, or merry? Alex. Like to the time o' the year between the
extremes Of hot and cold; he was nor sad, nor merry.
Cleo. O well-divided disposition !-Note him, Note him, good Charmian, 'tis the man; but note
him : He was not sad; for he would shine on those That make their looks by his : he was not merry; Which seem'd to tell them, his remembrance lay In Egypt with his joy; but between both : O heavenly mingle !-Be'st thou sad, or merry, The violence of either thee becomes ;
tected by armour as well as his rider. But I prefer Hanmer's reading.' Boswell.
8 Was beastly dumb'p by him.] The old copy has dumbe. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. Alexas means (says he) the horse made such a neighing, that if he had spoke, he could not have been heard.” Malone.
The verb which Mr. Theobald would introduce, is found in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609 :
“Deep clerks she dumbs," &c. Steevens. Shakspeare wrote:
“Who neighed so high, that what I would have spoken,
“ Was beastly done hy him." i.e. the sense of what I would have spoke, the horse declared, though in inarticulate sounds. The case was this : Alexas came to take leave of Antony, who recommended a message to him to his mistress ; Alexas then had no more to do but to make his compliments : but in that instant Antony mounted his war-horse, long accustomed to bear him, who no sooner felt his master's weight, but, as is usual for horses of service, neighed in a very sprightly manner. This circumstance (such a one as poets and romancers, when they speak of their hero's adventures, never fail to improve,) Alexas is made to turn to a compliment on Antony, which could not but please Cleopatra. I was going (says he,) to pay my farewell compliments to Antony, to predict his future successes, and to salute him with the usual appellations of victory, when the horse got the start of me; and by his neighing so high and sprightly, showed him to be sensible that he had a hero on his back whom he was bearing to conquest. WARBURTON. · I have restored the above very ingenious note.
So does it no man else.—Met'st thou my posts ?
Alex. Ay, madam, twenty several messengers: Why do you send so thick ' ? CLEO.
Who's born that day
O that brave Cæsar!
The valiant Cæsar!
By your most gracious pardon,
My sallad days; When I was green in judgment:-Cold in blood, To say, as I said then?!-But, come, away: Get me ink and paper : He shall have every day a several greeting, Or I'll unpeople Egypt?.
[Exeunt 9-SO THICK?] i. e. in such quick succession. So, in Macbeth:
- As thick as tale,
“ Came post with post" See vol. xi. p. 43. STEEVENS. · My sallad days; When I was green in judgment :-Cold in blood,
To say, as I said then !] Cold in blood, is an upbraiding expostulation to her maid. “Those, (says she,) were my sallad days, when I was green in judgment; but your blood is as cold as my judgment, if you have the same opinion of things now as I had then." WARBURTON. Old
“ To say as I said then.” Warburton's reading is more spirited, but cold and green seem to be suggested by the metaphor sallad days. Boswell.
unpeople Egypt.] By sending out messengers. Johnson.