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To say, the dead are well: bring it to that,
The gold I give thee, will I melt, and pour
Down thy ill-uttering throat.

MESS. Good madam, hear me.

CLEO. Well, go to, I will; But there's no goodness in thy face: If Antony Be free, and healthful,-why so tart a favour To trumpet such good tidings? If not well, Thou should'st come like a fury crown'd with


Not like a formal man".



Will't please you hear me?

CLEO. I have a mind to strike thee, ere thou


Yet, if thou say, Antony lives, is well,

Or friends with Cæsar, or not captive to him,


If Antony

Be free, and healthful,- -WHY SO tart a favour

To trumpet such good tidings?] The old copies have not. the adverb-why; but, as Mr. M. Mason observes, somewhat was wanting in the second of these lines, both to the sense and to the metre. He has, therefore, no doubt but the passage ought to run thus:


If Antony

"Be free, and healthful,-why so tart a favour

"To usher," &c.

I have availed myself of this necessary expletive, which I find also in Sir Thomas Hanmer's edition. STEEVENS.

Not like a FORMAL man.] Decent, regular. JOHNSON. By a formal man, Shakspeare means, a man in his senses. Informal women, in Measure for Measure, is used for women beside themselves. STEEVENS.

"A formal man," I believe, only means a man in form, i. e. shape. You should come in the form of a fury, and not in the form of a man. So, in A Mad World my Masters, by Middleton, 1608:

"The very devil assum'd thee formally."

i. e. assumed thy form. MALONE.

7 Yet, if thou say, Antony lives, is well,

Or friends with Cæsar, &c.] The old copy reads-'tis well.


We surely should read-is well. The Messenger is to have

I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail

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But yet, madam,—
CLEO. I do not like but yet, it does allay
The good precedence ; fye upon but yet:
But yet is as a gaoler to bring forth

Some monstrous malefactor. Pr'ythee, friend,
Pour out the pack of matter to mine ear,


The good and bad together: He's friends with


In state of health, thou say'st; and, thou say'st, free.

MESS. Free, madam! no; I made no such report:

He's bound unto Octavia.

his reward, if he says, that Antony is alive, in health, and “either friends with Cæsar, or not captive to him." TYRWHITT.

8 I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail

Rich pearls upon thee.] That is, I will give thee a kingdom: it being the eastern ceremony, at the coronation of their kings, to powder them with gold-dust and seed-pearl. So, Milton:


the gorgeous east with liberal hand

"Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold."

In The Life of Timer-buc, or Tamerlane, written by a Persian contemporary author, are the following words, as translated by Mons. Petit de la Croix, in the account there given of his coronation, book ii. chap. i.: "Les princes du sang royal & les emirs repandirent à pleines mains sur sa tête quantité d'or & de pierreries selon la coûtume." WARBURTON.

9 it does allay

The good precedence ;] i. e. abates the good quality of what is already reported. STEEVENS.

-THE pack] A late editor [Mr. Capell] reads-thy pack.



For what good turn?

I am pale, Charmian.

MESS. For the best turn i' the bed.


MESS. Madam, he's married to Octavia.

CLEO. The most infectious pestilence upon thee!

MESS. Good madam, patience.


[Strikes him down.

What say you?-Hence,

[Strikes him again.

Horrible villain! or I'll spurn thine eyes
Like balls before me; I'll unhair thy head;

[She hales him up and down.

Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in


Smarting in ling'ring pickle.

MESS. Gracious madam, I, that do bring the news, made not the match. CLEO. Say, 'tis not so, a province I will give thee, And make thy fortunes proud: the blow thou hadst Shall make thy peace, for moving me to rage; And I will boot thee with what gift beside Thy modesty can beg


CLEO. Rogue, thou hast liv'd too long.


He's married, madam.

[Draws a Dagger2.

Nay, then I'll run :

What mean you, madam? I have made no fault.


CHAR. Good madam, keep yourself within yourself3;

The man is innocent.

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·Draws a Dagger.] The old copy-Draw a Knife.

See vol. xi. p. 65. MALONE.


3-keep yourself within yourself;] i. e. contain yourself, restrain your passion within bounds. So, in The Taming of the Shrew :

CLEO. Some innocents 'scape not the thunder


Melt Egypt into Nile! and kindly creatures
Turn all to serpents !-Call the slave again;
Though I am mad, I will not bite him :-Call.
CHAR. He is afeard to come.


I will not hurt him :

These hands do lack nobility, that they strike
A meaner than myself"; since I myself

Have given myself the cause.-Come hither, sir.
Re-enter Messenger.

Though it be honest, it is never good

To bring bad news: Give to a gracious message An host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell Themselves, when they be felt.

MESS. I have done my duty.

"Doubt not, my lord, we can contain ourselves.”

STEEVENS. 4 Melt Egypt into Nile !] So, in the first scene of this play: "Let Rome in Tyber melt," &c. STEEVENS.

5 These hands do lack nobility, that they strike

A meaner than myself;] This thought seems to be borrowed from the laws of chivalry, which forbad a knight to engage with his inferior. So, in Albumazar:


Stay; understand'st thou well the points of duel?

"Art born of gentle blood, and pure descent ?

"Was none of all thy lineage hang'd or cuckold?
"Bastard, or bastinado'd? is thy pedigree

"As long and wide as mine ?—for otherwise

"Thou wert most unworthy, and 'twere loss of honour

"In me to fight." STEEVENS.

Perhaps here was intended an indirect censure of Queen Elizabeth, for her unprincely and unfeminine treatment of the amiable Earl of Essex. The play was probably not produced till after her death, when a stroke at her proud and passionate demeanour to her courtiers and maids of honour (for her majesty used to chastise them too) might be safely hazarded. In a subsequent part of this scene there is (as Dr. Grey has observed) an evident allusion to Elizabeth's enquiries concerning the person of her rival, Mary, Queen of Scots. MALONE.

CLEO. Is he married?

I cannot hate thee worser than I do,
If thou again say, Yes.


He is married, madam.

CLEO. The gods confound thee! dost thou hold there still ?

MESS. Should I lie, madam?

CLEO. O, I would, thou didst; So half my Egypt were submerg'do, and made A cistern for scal'd snakes! Go, get thee hence; Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me Thou would'st appear most ugly". He is married? MESS. I crave your highness' pardon.


He is married? MESS. Take no offence, that I would not offend


To punish me for what you make me do,
Seems much unequal: He is married to Octavia.
CLEO. O, that his fault should make a knave of

That art not what thou'rt sure of!-Get thee hence:


were SUBMERG'D,] Submerg'd is whelmed under water. So, in The Martial Maid, by Beaumont and Fletcher :

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spoil'd, lost, and submerg'd in the inundation," &c. Again, in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, book iii. hist. xiv. : "" as the cataracts of Nilus make it submerge and wash Egypt with her inundation." STEEVENS.

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Thou would'st appear most ugly.] So, in King John, Act III.

Sc. I.:


'Fellow, be gone; I cannot brook thy sight;

"This news hath made thee a most ugly man."


8 That art not what thou'rt sure of!] For this, which is not easily understood, Sir Thomas Hanmer has given :

"That say'st but what thou'rt sure of!"

I am not satisfied with the change, which, though it affords sense, exhibits little spirit. I fancy the line consists only of abrupt starts:

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