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LEP. Farewell, my lord: What you shall know
Of stirs abroad, I shall beseech you, sir,
To let me be partaker.
I knew it for my bond R.
Doubt not, sir ;
Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and MARDIAN.
CLEO. Ha, ha!
Give me to drink mandragora".
8 I knew it for my BOND.] That is, to be
duty. M. MASON.
9-mandragora.] A plant of which the infusion was supposed to procure sleep. Shakspeare mentions it in Othello:
"Not poppy, nor mandragora,
"Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
"Shall ever med'cine thee to that sweet sleep-."
So, in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, 1623:
"Come violent death,
"Serve for mandragora, and make me sleep."
Gerard, in his Herbal, says of the mandragoras: "Dioscorides doth particularly set downe many faculties hereof, of which notwithstanding there be none proper unto it, save those that depend upon the drowsie and sleeping power thereof."
In Adlington's Apuleius (of which the epistle is dated 1566) reprinted 1639, 4to. bl. 1. p. 187, lib. x.: I gave him no poyson, but a doling drink of mandragoras, which is of such force, that it will cause any man to sleepe, as though he were dead." PERCY. See also Pliny's Natural History, by Holland, 1601, and Plutarch's Morals, 1602, p. 19. RITSON.
Why, madam ?
CLEO. That I might sleep out this great gap of
What's your highness' pleasure?
CLEO. Not now to hear thee sing; I take no
In aught an eunuch has: "Tis well for thee,
CLEO. Indeed ?
MAR. Not in deed, madam; for I can do nothing But what in deed is honest to be done:
Yet have I fierce affections, and think,
Where think'st thou he is now? Stands he, or sits he?
Or does he walk? or is he on his horse ?
O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony!
The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm
1 O, treason!] Old copy, coldly and unmetrically"O, 'tis treason! STEEVENS.
2 And BURGONET of men.] A burgonet is a kind of helmet. So,
in King Henry VI.:
"This day I'll wear aloft my burgonet."
Again, in The Birth of Merlin, 1662:
"This, by the gods and my good sword, I'll set
Or murmuring, Where's my serpent of old Nile?
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. 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 :
"That never yet was tam'd with yoke, broad-fronted, one STEEVENS.
-Broad-fronted," in allusion to Cæsar's baldness.
5- ANCHOR his aspect,] So, in Measure for Measure:
Whilst my invention, hearing not my tongue, "Anchors on Isabel." STEEVENS.
that great medicine hath
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:
How goes it with my brave Mark Antony?
He kiss'd, the last of many doubled kisses,— This orient pearl ;-His speech sticks in my heart. CLEO. Mine ear must pluck it thence,
ALEX. Good friend, quoth he, Say, the firm Roman to great Egypt sends This treasure of an oyster; at whose foot To mend the petty present, I will piece
Her opulent throne with kingdoms; All the east, Say thou, shall call her mistress. So he nodded, And soberly did mount an arm-gaunt steed',
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:
"His stall-worn steed the champion stout bestrode."
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 Antony 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 pro