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VAR. This is most certain that I shall deliver: Mark Antony is every hour in Rome
Expected; since he went from Egypt, 'tis
I could have given less matter
A better ear.-Menas, I did not think,
This amorous surfeiter would have don'd his helm 2 For such a petty war: his soldiership
Is twice the other twain: But let us rear
Again, in Candlemas Day, 1512, p. 13:
I cannot hope*,
“Thu lurdeyn, take hed what I sey the tyll."
To "prorogue his honour," &c. undoubtedly means, 'to delay his sense of honour from exerting itself till he is become habitually sluggish.' STEEVENS.
- since he went from Egypt, 'tis
A space for further travel.] i. e. since he quitted Egypt, a space of time has elapsed in which a longer journey might have been performed than from Egypt to Rome. STEEVENS.
I could have given, &c.] I cannot help supposing, on account of the present irregularity of metre, that the name of Menas is an interpolation, and that the passage originally stood as follows:
I could have given
"Less matter better ear.-I did not think—.'
would have DON'D his helm-] To don is to do on, to put So, in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, 1623:
"Call upon our dame aloud,
"Bid her quickly don her shrowd." STEEVENS. 3-Egypt's WIDOW] Julius Cæsar had married her to young Ptolemy, who was afterwards drowned. STEEVENS.
4 I cannot HOPE, &c.] Mr. Tyrwhitt, the judicious editor of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, in five vols. 8vo. 1775, &c. observes, that to hope, on this occasion, means to expect. So, in The Reve's Tale, v, 4027 ;
Cæsar and Antony shall well greet together:
I know not, Menas,
How lesser enmities may give way to greater.
For they have entertained cause enough
"Our manciple I hope he wol be ded." STEEVENS. Yet from the following passage in Puttenham, it would seem to have been considered as a blundering expression in the days of Queen Elizabeth: "Such manner of uncouth speech did the Tanner of Tamworth use to king Edward the fourth, which Tanner having a great while mistaken him, and used very broad talke with him, at length perceiving by his traine that it was the king, was afraide he should be punished for it, said thus with a certaine rude repentance:
"I hope I shall be hanged to-morrow! For [I feare me] I shall be hanged, whereat the king laughed agood, not only to see the Tanners vaine feare, but also to heare his ill-shapen terme." BOSWELL.
-WARR'D upon him;] The old copy has-wan'd. The emendation, which was made by the editor of the second folio, is supported by a passage in the next scene, in which Cæsar says Antony :
your wife and brother
"Made wars upon me." MAlone.
square] This is, quarrel. So, in The Shoemaker's Holiday, or the Gentle Craft, 1600:
"What? square they, master Scott?"
Sir, no doubt:
"Lovers are quickly in, and quickly out." STEEVENS. See vol. v. p. 202. MALONE.
Rome. A Room in the House of Lepidus.
Enter ENOBArbus and Lepidus.
LEP. Good Enobarbus, 'tis a worthy deed, And shall become you well, to entreat your captain To soft and gentle speech.
I shall entreat him
And speak as loud as Mars. By Jupiter,
I would not shave't to-day".
Our lives upon, &c.] i. e. to exert our utmost force, is the only consequential way of securing our lives.
So, in King Richard III.:
for it stands me much upon
"To stop all hopes," &c.
i. e. is of the utmost consequence to me. Act IV. Sc. II. STEEVENS.
See Richard III.
8 This play is not divided into Acts by the author or first editors, and therefore the present division may be altered at pleasure. I think the first Act may be commodiously continued to this place, and the second Act opened with the interview of the chief persons, and a change of the state of action. Yet it must be confessed, that it is of small importance, where these unconnected and desultory scenes are interrupted. JOHNSON.
9 Were I the wearer of Antonius' beard,
I would not shave't to-day.] I believe he means, I would meet him undressed, without show of respect.' JOHNSON.
Plutarch mentions that Antony, "after the overthrow he had at Modena, suffered his beard to grow at length, and never clipt it, that it was marvelous long." Perhaps this circumstance was in Shakspeare's thoughts. MALONE.
Serves for the matter that is then born in it.
LEP. But small to greater matters must give way. ENO. Not if the small come first.
Enter CESAR, MECENAS, and AGRIPPA.
ANT. If we compose well here', to Parthia: Hark you, Ventidius.
I do not know,
Mecænas; ask Agrippa.
That which combin'd us was most great, and let
A leaner action rend us.
May it be gently heard: When we debate
Our trivial difference loud, we do commit
Murder in healing wounds: Then, noble partners, (The rather, for I earnestly beseech,)
Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms, Nor curstness grow to the matter 2.
'Tis spoken well:
Were we before our armies, and to fight,
I should do thus.
CES. Welcome to Rome.
If we COMPOSE well here,] i. e. if we come to a lucky composition, agreement. So afterwards:
I crave our composition may be written-." i. e. the terms on which our differences are settled.
2 Nor curstness grow to the matter.] Let not ill-humour be added to the real subject of our difference. JOHNson.
ANT. I learn, you take things ill, which are not
Or, being, concern you not.
If, or for nothing, or a little, I
I must be laugh'd at,
Should say myself offended; and with you
Chiefly i' the world: more laugh'd at, that I should Once name you derogately, when to sound your
It not concern'd me.
3 Cæs. Sit.
Ant. Sit, sir!] Antony appears to be jealous of a circumstance which seemed to indicate a consciousness of superiority in his too successful partner in power; and accordingly resents the invitation of Cæsar to be seated: Cæsar answers, Nay, then;" i. e. if you are so ready to resent what I meant as an act of civility, there can be no reason to suppose you have temper enough for the business on which at present we are met. The former editors leave a full point at the end of this, as well as the preceding speech. STEEVENS.
The following circumstance may serve to strengthen Mr. Steevens's opinion: When the fictitious Sebastian made his appearance in Europe, he came to a conference with the Conde de Lemos; to whom, after the first exchange of civilities, he said, "Conde de Lemos, be covered." And being asked, by that nobleman, by what pretences he laid claim to the superiority expressed by such permission, he replied, "I do it by right of my birth; I am Sebastian." JOHNSON.
I believe, the author meant no more than that Cæsar should desire Antony to be seated: "Sit." To this Antony replies, Be you, sir, seated first: Sit, sir." "Nay, then," rejoins Cæsar, if you stand on ceremony, to put an end to farther talk on a matter of so little moment, I will take my seat.-However, I have too much respect for the two preceding editors, to set my judgment above their concurring opinions, and therefore have left the note of admiration placed by Mr. Steevens at the end of Antony's speech, undisturbed. MALONE.