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MESS. Madam, I heard her speak; she is lowvoic'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,
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
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 ?
MESS. Or I have no observance.
Cannot make better note.
Three in Egypt
He's very knowing,
CLEO. Guess at her years, I pr'ythee.
She was a widow.
Widow ?-Charmian, hark7.
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 station 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.
Is as low, &c.] metre, I am answerable.
For the insertion of is, to help the
CLEO. There is gold for thee. Thou must not take my former sharpness ill :I will employ thee back again; I find thee Most fit for business: Go, make thee ready; Our letters are prepar❜d. [Exit Messenger.
CHAR. A proper man. CLEO. Indeed, he is so: I repent me much, That so I harry'd him 1. Why, methinks, by him, This creature's no such thing.
Mr. Steevens arranges this and the preceding lines, which in the old copy are printed as prose, in the following manner:
"Mess. Round even to faultiness.
For the most part too, They are foolish that are so.-Her hair, what colour? "Mess. Brown, madam : And her forehead is as low "As she would wish it." BOSWELL.
"As low as she would wish it." Low foreheads were, in Shakspeare's age, thought a blemish. So, in The Tempest: with foreheads villainous low."
You and She are not likely to have been confounded; otherwise we might suppose that our author wrote
"As low as you would wish it." MALONE.
The phrase employed by the Messenger is still a cant one. I once overheard a chambermaid say of her rival,-" that her legs were as thick as she could wish them." STEEVens.
SO I HARRY'D him.] To harry, is to use roughly, harass, subdue. So, in the Chester Whitsun-Playes, MS. Harl. 2013, the Cookes' Company are appointed to exhibit the 17th pageant of
"the harrowinge of helle."
The same word occurs also in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1607: "He harried her, and midst a throng," &c.
Again, in The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601: "Will harry me about instead of her."
Holinshed, p. 735, speaking of the body of Richard III. says, it "harried on horseback, dead."
The same expression had been used by Harding, in his Chronicle. Again, by Nash, in his Lenten Stuff, 1599: “ were harrying and chasing his enemies." STEEVens.
as if he
To harry, is, literally, to hunt. Hence the word harrier. King James threatened the Puritans that " he would harry them out of the land." HENLEY.
Minsheu, in his Dictionary, 1617, explains the word thus: "To turmoile or vexe." Cole, in his English Dictionary, 1676, inter
CHAR. Nothing 2, madam.
CLEO. The man hath seen some majesty, and should know.
CHAR. Hath he seen majesty? Isis else defend, And serving you so long!
CLEO. I have one thing more to ask him yet, good Charmian:
But 'tis no matter; thou shalt bring him to me
Athens. A Room in ANTONY'S House.
Enter ANTONY and OCTAVIA.
ANT. Nay, nay, Octavia, not only that,That were excusable, that, and thousands more Of semblable import,-but he hath wag'd New wars 'gainst Pompey; made his will, and read it
To publick ear:
Spoke scantly of me: when perforce he could not
prets haried by the word pulled, and in the sense of pulled and lugged about, I believe the word was used by Shakspeare. See the marginal direction in p. 249. In a kindred sense it is used in the old translation of Plutarch: "Pyrrhus seeing his people thus troubled, and harried to and fro," &c.
See also Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1590: "Tartassare. To rib-baste, to bang, to tugge, to hale, to harrie." MALONE.
2 O, nothing,] The exclamation-0, was, for the sake of measure, supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer. STEEVENS.
3 When the best hint was given him, he NOT TOOK'T,] The
Ост. O my good lord, Believe not all; or, if you must believe, Stomach not all. A more unhappy lady, If this division chance, ne'er stood between, Praying for both parts: the good gods will mock me presently,
When I shall pray 6, O, bless my lord and husband! Undo that prayer, by crying out as loud,
O, bless my brother! Husband win, win brother, Prays, and destroys the prayer; no midway 'Twixt these extremes at all.
Gentle Octavia, Let your best love draw to that point, which seeks Best to preserve it: If I lose mine honour,
first folio reads, not look'd. Dr. Thirlby advised the emendation, which I have inserted in the text. THEOBALD.
4 Or did it FROM HIS TEETH.] Whether this means, as we now say, in spite of his teeth, or that he spoke through his teeth, so as to be purposely indistinct, I am unable to determine.
A similar passage, however, occurs in a very scarce book entitled A Courtlie Controversie of Cupid's Cautels: conteyning Five Tragicall Histories, &c. Translated out of French, &c. by H. W. [Henry Wotton] 4to. 1578: "The whyche the factor considering, incontinently made his reckning that it behoued him to speake clearely, and not betweene his teeth, if he would practise surely," &c.
Again, in Chapman's version of the fifteenth Iliad : "She laught, but meerly from her lips:
Again, in Fuller's Historie of the Holy Warre, b. iv. ch. 17: "This bad breath, though it came but from the teeth of some, yet proceeded from the corrupt lungs of others."
Again, in P. Holland's translation of the eleventh book of Pliny's Natural History : the noise which they make cometh but from their teeth and mouth outward." STEEVENS.
5 AND the-] I have supplied this conjunction, for the sake of metre. STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens divides this line, and reads thus:
Praying for both parts:
And the good gods will mock me presently." BosWELL.
6 When I shall pray, &c.] The situation and sentiments of Octavia resemble those of Lady Blanch in King John, Act III. Sc. I. STEEVENS.