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Heart, once be stronger than thy continent",
I will o'ertake thee, Cleopatra, and
And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze:
through the seven-fold shield of Ajax; I wish it were strong enough to cleave my sides and destroy me.' See the notes on Pray you, undo this button:" King Lear, vol. x. p. 286.
thy continent,] i. e. the thing that contains thee. So, in Hamlet: "You shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see." STEEVENS.
3 All LENGTH is torture:] I strongly suspect that, instead of length, our author wrote-life. STEEVENS.
SEAL then, and all is done.] Metaphor taken from civil contracts, where, when all is agreed on, the sealing compleats the contract; so he hath determined to die, and nothing remained but to give the stroke. WARBURTON.
I believe the reading is:
seel then, and all is done.”
To seel hawks, is to close their eyes. The meaning will be: Close thine eyes for ever, and be quiet.' JOHNSON.
In a former scene we have:
the wise gods seel our eyes
"In our own filth."
The old reading is the true one.
Thus, in King Henry V.:
"And so, espous'd to death, with blood he seal'd
"A testament of noble-ending love." STEEVENS.
5 Dido and her Æneas shall want troops,] Dr. Warburton has justly observed that the poet seems not to have known that Dido and Æneas were not likely to be found thus lovingly associated,
And all the haunt be ours,-Come, Eros, Eros!
EROS. What would my lord?
ANT. Since Cleopatra died I have liv'd in such dishonour, that the gods Detest my baseness. I, that with my sword Quarter'd the world, and o'er green Neptune's back With ships made cities, condemn myself, to lack The courage of a woman; less noble mind
Than she, which, by her death, our Cæsar tells,
"where souls do couch on flowers." He undoubtedly had read Phaer's translation of Virgil, but probably had forgot the celebrated description in the sixth book:
Talibus Æneas ardentem et torva tuentem
Tandem proripuit sese, atque inimica refugit
In nemus umbriferum. MALONE.
Dr. Warburton has also observed that Shakspeare most probably wrote-Sichæus. At least, I believe, he intended to have written so, on the strength of the passage immediately following the lines already quoted:
conjux ubi pristinus illi
Respondet curis, æquatque Sichæus amorem.
Thus rendered by Phaer, edit. 1558 :
where ioynt with her, her husband old,
Sycheus doth complayne, and equall loue with her doth holde."
But Eneas being the more familiar name of the two, our author inadvertently substituted the one for the other. STEEVENS.
condemn myself, to LACK
The courage of a woman; LESS noble MIND
Than she,] Antony is here made to say, that he is destitute of even the courage of a woman, that he is destitute of a less noble mind than Cleopatra. But he means to assert the very contrary: that he must acknowledge he has a less noble mind than she. I therefore formerly supposed that Shakspeare might have written :
condemn myself to lack
"The courage of a woman; less noble-minded
"Than she," &c.
But a more intimate acquaintance with his writings has shown
I am conqueror of myself. Thou art sworn, Eros, That, when the exigent should come, (which now
me that he had some peculiar inaccuracies, which it is very idle to endeavour to amend. For these the poet, not his editor, must answer. We have the same inaccurate phraseology in The Winter's Tale : I ne'er heard yet,
"That any of these bolder vices wanted
"Less impudence to gainsay what they did,
Again, in Macbeth:
"Who cannot want the thought, how monsterous
"To kill their gracious father? "
Again, in King Lear, Act II. Sc. IV.:
I have hope,
"You less know how to value her desert,
See vol. xi. p. 85; Winter's Tale, Act I. Sc. II. and Act III. Sc. II.
The passage in North's translation of Plutarch, which Shakspeare has here copied, shows that, however inaccurate, the text is not corrupt: "When he had sayd these words, he went into a chamber, and unarmed himselfe, and being naked say'd thus: O Cleopatra, it grieveth me not that I have lost thy companie, for I will not be long from thee; but I am sorrie that having been so great a captaine and emperour, I am indeede condemned to be judged of lesse corage and noble MINDE than a woman." Instead of" to be judged of less," which applies equally well to courage, and to mind, Shakspeare substituted the word lack, which is applicable to courage, but cannot without a solecism be connected with less noble mind." MALONE.
"Condemn myself to lack," &c. however licentiously, may have been employed to signify-' condemn myself for lacking even the courage of a woman.'
To mind, in this instance, may be a verb, signifying to intend, incline, or be disposed. So, in Spenser's State of Ireland: "When one of them mindeth to go into rebellion, he will convey away all his lordships," &c.
Again, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad:
As for me; be sure, I mind no harme
Again, in the Third Part of our author's King Henry VI.:
Again, ibid. :
"But if you mind to hold your true obedience-.”
Is come, indeed,) when I should see behind me
Disgrace and horror, that, on my command,
Thou then would'st kill me: do't; the time is
Thou strik'st not me, 'tis Cæsar thou defeat'st.
Put colour in thy cheek.
The gods withhold me!
ANT. Eros, Would'st thou be window'd in great Rome, and see Thy master thus with pleach'd arms, bending down His corrigible neck, his face subdued
To penetrative shame; whilst the wheel'd seat
I would not see't.
ANT. Come then; for with a wound I must be
Draw that thy honest sword, which thou hast worn Most useful for thy country.
There may still, however, remain a slight corruption, viz. noble instead of nobly. I would therefore read
condemn myself to lack
"The courage of a woman; less nobly mind
i. e. am less nobly inclined than she is. STEEvens.
7 - pleach'd arms,] Arms folded in each other. JOHNSON. A passage very like this occurs in Thomas Kyd's translation of Robert Garnier's Cornelia, published in 1594:
"Now shalt thou march (thy hands fast bound behind thee,)
"With crowned front triumphing follows thee." STEEVENS. 8 His CORRIGIBLE neck,] Corrigible for corrected, and afterwards penetrative for penetrating. So Virgil has "penetrabile frigus" for "penetrans frigus," in his Georgicks. STEEVENS.
9 His baseness that ensued?] The poor conquered wretch that followed. JOHNSON.
O, sir, pardon me.
ANT. When I did make thee free 1, swor'st thou
To do this when I bade thee? Do it at once;
But accidents unpurpos'd. Draw, and come.
Wherein the worship of the whole world 2 lies.
ANT. Lo thee.
EROS. My sword is drawn.
[Turning from him.
Then let it do at once
The thing why thou hast drawn it.
I When I did make thee free, &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "Now he had a man of his called Eros, whom he loued and trusted much, and whom he had long before caused to sweare vnto him, that he should kill him when he did commaunde him and then he willed him to keepe his promise. His man drawing his sworde, lift it vp, as though he had ment to haue striken his maister: but turning his head at one side, he thrust his sword into him selfe, and fell downe dead at his maister's foote. Then said Antonius, O noble Eros, I thanke thee for this, and it is valiantly done of thee, to show me what I should do to my selfe, which thou couldest not doe for me. Therewithall he tooke his sword, and thrust it into his bellie, and so fell downe vpon a little bed. The wounde he had, killed him not presently, for the blood stinted a little when he was layed: and when he came somewhat to him selfe again, he praied them that were about him to dispatch him. But they all fled out of the chamber, and left him crying out and tormenting him selfe: vntil at last there came a secretarie vnto him called Diomedes, who was commaunded to bring him into the tombe or monument where Cleopatra was. When he heard that she was aliue, he verie earnestlie prayed his men to carie his bodie thither, and so he was caried in his men's armes into the entry of the monument." STEEVENS. the WORSHIP of the whole world -] The worship, is the dignity, the authority. JOHNSON.
So, in King John:
"By giving it the worship of revenge." STEEVENS,