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The merchandise which thou hast brought from
"O that his fault should make a knave of thee,
"That art-not what?-Thou'rt sure on't. Get thee hence." That his fault should make a knave of thee that art-but what shall I say thou art not? Thou art then sure of this marriage.— Get thee hence.'
Dr. Warburton has received Sir T. Hanmer's emendation.
In Measure for Measure, Act II. Sc. II. is a passage so much resembling this, that I cannot help pointing it out for the use of some future commentator, though I am unable to apply it with success to the very difficult line before us:
"Drest in a little brief authority,
"Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,
"That art not what thou'rt sure of!" i. e. Thou art not an honest man, of which thou art thyself assured, but thou art, in my opinion, a knave by thy master's fault alone.' TOLLET.
proper punctuation, with the addition of a single letter, will make this passage clear; the reading of sure of 't, instead of sure of:
O, that his fault should make a rogue of thee "That art not!-What? thou'rt sure of't?"
That is, 'What? are you sure of what you tell me, that he is married to Octavia?' M. MASON.
I suspect, the editors have endeavoured to correct this passage in the wrong place. Cleopatra begins now a little to recollect herself, and to be ashamed of having struck the servant for the fault of his master. She then very naturally exclaims :
"O, that his fault should make a knave of thee,
for so I would read, with the change of only one letter.-Alas, is it not strange, that the fault of Antony should make thee appear to me a knave, thee, that art innocent, and art not the cause of that ill news, in consequence of which thou art yet sore with my blows!'
If it be said, that it is very harsh to suppose that Cleopatra means to say to the Messenger, that he is not himself that information which he brings, and which has now made him smart, let the following passage in Coriolanus answer the objection : 66 Lest you should chance to whip your information, "And beat the messenger that bids beware "Of what is to be dreaded."
Are all too dear for me; Lie they upon thy hand, And be undone by 'em!
[Exit Messenger. Good your highness, patience.
CLEO. In praising Antony, I have disprais'd
CHAR. Many times, madam.
Lead me from hence,
I am paid for't now.
I faint; O Iras, Charmian,-'Tis no matter :
Go to the fellow, good Alexas; bid him
The colour of her hair':-bring me word quickly.
The Egyptian queen has beaten her information.
If the old copy be right, the meaning is—' Strange, that his fault should make thee appear a knave, who art not that information of which thou bringest such certain assurance.' MALONE.
I have adopted the arrangement, &c. proposed, with singular acuteness, by Mr. M. Mason; and have the greater confidence in it, because I received the very same emendation from a gentleman who had never met with the work in which it first occurred. STEEVENS.
the FEATURE of Octavia,] By feature seems to be meant, the cast and make of her face. Feature, however, aciently appears to have signified beauty in general.
So, in Greene's Farewell to Folly, 1617: " featured thou art, feared thou art."
rich thou art,
Spenser uses feature for the whole turn of the body. Fairy Queen, b. i. c. viii. :
"Thus when they had the witch disrobed quite,
Again, in b. iii. c. ix. :
"She also doft her heavy haberjeon,
"Which the fair feature of her limbs did hide."
Our author has already, in As You Like It, used feature for the general cast of face. See vol. vi. p. 443. MALONE.
The colour of her hair :] This is one of Shakspeare's masterly touches. Cleopatra, after bidding Charmian to enquire of the Messenger concerning the beauty, age, and temperament of Octavia, immediately adds, "let him not leave out the colour of
Let him for ever go2:-Let him not-Charmian,
Bring me word, how tall she is.-Pity me, Char
But do not speak to me.-Lead me to my chamber. [Exeunt.
Enter POMPEY and MENAS, at one side, with Drum and Trumpet: at another, CESAR, LEPIDUS, ANTONY, ENOBARBUS, MECENAS, with Soldiers marching.
POм. Your hostages I have, so have you mine; And we shall talk before we fight.
*First folio, The other wayes.
her hair; as from thence she might be able to judge for herself, of her rival's propensity to those pleasures, upon which her passion for Antony was founded. HENLEY.
Verily, would, for the instruction of mine ignorance, that the commentator had dealt more diffusedly on this delectable subject, for I can in no wise divine what coloured hair is to be regarded as most indicative of venereal motions: perhaps indeed the xóμai Xpúσɛia; and yet, without experience, certainty may still be wanting to mine appetite for knowledge. Cuncta prius tentanda, saith that waggish poet Ovidius Naso. AMNER.
2 Let him for ever go:] She is now talking in broken sentences, not of the Messenger, but Antony. JOHNSON.
3 T' other way he's a Mars:] In this passage the sense is clear, but, I think, may be much improved by a very little alteration. Cleopatra, in her passion upon the news of Antony's marriage,
"Let him for ever go :-Let him not-Charmian,―
This, I think, would be more spirited thus :
"Let him for ever go :-let him-no,—Charmian ;
That first we come to words; and therefore have
Our written purposes before us sent;
Which, if thou hast consider'd, let us know
And carry back to Sicily much tall youth,
To drench the Capitol; but that they would
Take your time. ANT. Thou canst not fear us, Pompey, with thy
verb is also used by Preface, p. 22, edit. man? but what mad
the good Brutus GHOSTED,] Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy. 1632. "What madnesse ghosts this old nesse ghosts us all?" STEEVENS.
5 Made THE-] Thus the second folio. In the first, the article-the is omitted, to the manifest injury of the metre.
6 Thou canst not FEAR US,] Thou canst not affright us with thy numerous navy. JOHNSON.
So, in Measure for Measure:
"Setting it up, to fear the birds of prey." STEEVENS.
We'll speak with thee at sea: at land, thou know'st How much we do o'er-count thee.
At land, indeed,
Ром. Thou dost o'er-count me of my father's house 7: But, since the cuckoo builds not for himself, Remain in't as thou may'st.
LEP. Be pleas'd to tell us, (For this is from the present,) how you take
The offers we have sent you.
There's the point. ANT. Which do not be entreated to, but weigh What it is worth embrac'd.
Thou dost o'er-count me of my father's house :] At land indeed thou dost exceed me in possessions, having added to thy own my father's house. O'er-count seems to be used equivocally, and Pompey perhaps meant to insinuate that Antony not only outnumbered, but had over-reached, him. The circumstance here alluded to our author found in the old translation of Plutarch: "Afterwards, when Pompey's house was put to open sale, Antonius bought it; but when they asked him money for it, he made it very straunge, and was offended with them."
Again: Whereupon Antonius asked him, [Sextus Pompeius] And where shall we sup? There, sayd Pompey; and showed him his admiral galley, which had six benches of owers that said he is my father's house they have left me. He spake it to taunt Antonius, because he had his father's house, that was Pompey the Great." See p. 271, n. 9. MALONE.
8 But, since the cuckoo builds not for himself, &c.] Since, like the cuckoo, that seizes the nests of other birds, you have invaded a house which you could not build, keep it while you can. JOHNSON.
So, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny, b. x. ch. ix. :
"These (cuckows) lay alwaies in other birds' nests." STEEVENS.
9 this is from the PRESENT,] i. e. foreign to the object of our present discussion. See Tempest, Act I. Sc. I. STEEVENS.
This word occurs as a substantive no less than seventeen times in our poet. BOSWELL.