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Octa. My noble brother
Ant. The April's in her eyes: It is love's spring, And these the showers to bring it on.-Be cheerful. Octa. Sir, look well to my husband's house;
What, Octavia ?
Octa. I'll tell you in your ear.
Her heart inform her tongue: the swan's down
[ Aside to AGRIPPA. AGR.
He has a cloud in's face. Eno. He were the worse for that, were he a
horse"; So is he, being a man. AGR.
Why, Enobarbus ? When Antony found Julius Cæsar dead,
anon behold “ The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cut,
Bounding between the two moist elements,
“ Like Perseus' horse." Malone. 9 - stands upon the swell at full of tide,
And neither way inclines.] This image has already occurred in The Second Part of King Henry IV.:
“ As with the tide swell’d up unto its height,
he a horse ;] A horse is said to have a cloud in his face, when he has a black or dark-coloured spot in his forehead between his eyes. This gives him a sour look, and being supposed to indicate an ill-temper, is of course regarded as a great blemish.
The same phrase occurs in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, edit. 1632, 524 : “Every lover admires his mistress, though she be deformed of her selfe-thin leane, chitty face, have clouds in her face, be crooked,” &c. Steevens.
He cried almost to roaring: and he wept,
No, sweet Octavia,
Come, sir, come;
Adieu ; be happy!
CES. Farewell, farewell! [Kisses OCTAVIA. ANT,
Farewell! [Trumpets sound. Ereunt. .
? What willingly he did CONFOUND, he wail'D :) So, in Macbeth:
wail his fall
“ Whom I myself struck down.” To confound is to destroy. See Minsheu's Dict. in voce.
MALONE. 3 Believe it, till I weep too.) I have ventured to alter the tense of the verb here, against the authority of all the copies. There was no sense in it, I think, as it stood before. Theobald.
I am afraid there was better sense in this passage as it originally stood, than Mr. Theobald's alteration will afford us. “Believe it, (says Enobarbus,) that Antony did so, i. e. that he wept over such an event, till you see me weeping on the same occasion, when I shall be obliged to you for putting such a construction on my tears, which, in reality, (like his) will be tears of joy.” I have replaced the old reading. Mr. Theobald reads—“till I wept too."
STEEVENS. I should certainly adopt Theobald's amendment, the meaning of which is, that Antony wailed the death of Brutus so bitterly, that I [Enobarbus) was affected by it, and wept also.
Mr. Steevens's explanation of the present reading is so forced, that I cannot clearly comprehend it. M. Mason,
Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, Iras, and ALEX.As.
Cleo. Where is the fellow ?
Half afеard to come. Cleo. Go to, go to :-Come hither, sir.
Enter a Messenger. Alex.
Good majesty, Herod of Jewry dare not look upon you, But when you are well pleas’d. Cleo.
That Herod's head I'll have : But how? when Antony is gone Through whom I might command it. -Come thou
near. Mess. Most gracious majesty, CLEO.
Didst thou behold Octavia ?
Mess. Ay, dread queen.
Madam, in Rome I look'd her in the face, and saw her led Between her brother and Mark Antony.
Cleo. Is she as tall as me * ?
4 Is she as tall as me? &c. &c. &c.] This scene (says Dr. Grey) is a manifest allusion to the questions put by Queen Elizabeth to Sir James Melvil, concerning his mistress the Queen of Scots. Whoever will give himself the trouble to consult his Memoirs, may probably suppose the resemblance to be more than accidental. STEEVENS.
I see no probability that Shakspeare should here allude to a conversation that passed between Queen Elizabeth and a Scottish ambassador in 1564, the very year in which he was born, and does not appear to have been made publick for above threescore Mess.
She is not, madam. Cleo. Didst hear her speak? Is she shrill-tongu'd,
or low ? Mess. Madam, I heard her speak; she is low
voic'd. Cleo. That's not so good :-he cannot like her
long. Char. Like her? O Isis ! 'tis impossible. Cleo. I think so, Charmian: Dull of tongue,
and dwarfish! What majesty is in her gait ? Remember, If e'er thou look’dst on majesty.
years after his death ; Melvil's Memoirs not being printed till 1683. Such enquiries, no doubt, are perfectly natural to rival females, whether queens or cinder-wenches. Ritson.
5 That's not so good :-he cannot like her long.) Cleopatra perhaps does not mean- - That is not so good a piece of intelligence as your last;' but, • That, i. e. a low voice, is not so good as a shrill tongue."
That a low voice (on which our author never omits to introduce an eulogium when he has an opportunity) was not esteemed by Cleopatra as merit in a lady, appears from what she adds afterwards,—“ Dull of tongue, and dwarfish!” If the words be understood in the sense first mentioned, the latter part of the line will be found inconsistent with the foregoing.
Perhaps, however, the author intended no connection between the two members of this line ; and that Cleopatra, after a pause, should exclaim-He cannot like her, whatever her merits be, for any length of time.' My first interpretation I believe to be the true one.
It has been justly observed that the poet had probably Queen Elizabeth here in his thoughts. The description given of her by a contemporary, about twelve years after her death, strongly confirms this supposition. “She was (says the Continuator of Stowe's Chronicle) tall of stature, strong in every limb and joynt, her fingers small and long, her voyce loud and shrill." Malone.
It may be remarked, however, that when Cleopatra applies the epithet “ shrill-tongued” to Fulvia, (see p. 168,) it is not introduced by way of compliment to the wife of Antony. Steevens.
The quality of the voice is referred to, as a criterion similar to that, already noticed, of the hair. See p. 253. Henley.
Is this certain ?
Three in Egypt
He's very knowing,
Madam, She was a widow. Cleo.
Widow ?-Charmian, hark . Mess. And I do think, she's thirty. Cleo. Bear'st thou her face in mind ? is't long,
or round? Mess. Round even to faultiness. Cleo. For the most part too, they are foolish
that are so Her hair, what colour ?
Mess. Brown, madam: And her forehead As low as she would wish it.
her station_] Station, in this instance, means the act of standing. So, in Hamlet :
“ A stat like the herald Mercury.” Steevens. 7 Widow ?-Charmian, hark.] Cleopatra rejoices in this circumstance, as it sets Octavia on a level with herself, who was no virgin, when she fell to the lot of Antony. Steevens. 8 ROUND, &c.
They are foolish that are so.) This is from the old writers on physiognomy. So, in Hill's Pleasant History, &c. 1613 : “ The head very round, to be forgetful and foolish." Again : “the head long to be prudent and wary.”—"a low forehead," &c. p. 218. STEEVENS.
9 — Is as low, &c.] For the insertion of—is, to help the metre, I am answerable. Steevens.