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Malone places the composition of this play in 1608. No previous edition to that of the folio of 1623 has been hitherto discovered ; but there is an entry of A Booke called Antony and Cleopatra,' to Edward Blount, in 1608, on the Stationers' Books.
Shakspeare followed Plutarch, and appears to have been anxious to introduce every incident and every personage he met with in his historian. Plutarch mentions Lamprias bis grandfather, as authority for some of the stories he relates of the profuseness and luxury of Antony's entertainments at Alexandria. In the stagedirection of Scene 2, Act i. in the old copy, Lamprias, Ramnas, and Lucilius are made to enter with the rest; but they have no part in the dialogue, nor do their names appear in the list of Dra. matis Persona.
Friends of Antony,
Friends of Cæsar.
Friends of Pompey.
Attendants on Cleopatra.
Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
SCENE I. Alexandria. A Room in Cleopatra's
Enter DEMETRIUS and Philo.
Philo. Nay, but this dotage of our general's O’erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes, That o'er the files and musters of the war Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn, The office and devotion of their view Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper; And is become the bellows, and the fan, To cool a gipsy's lust. Look where they come! Flourish. Enter ANTONY and CLEOPATRA, with
their Trains; Eunuchs fanning her. Take but good note, and you shall see in him
1 i.e. renounces. The metre would be improved by reading reneyes, or reneies, a word used by Chaucer and other of our elder writers: but we have in King Lear, renege, affirm, &c. Stanyhurst, in his version of the second book of the Æneid, has the word:* To live now longer, Troy burnt, he flatly reneageth.'
The triple pillar of the world transform'd
Cleo. If it be love indeed, tell me how much.
reckon'd 3. Cleo. I'll set a bourn how far to be belov'd. Ant. Then must thou needs find out new heaven,
new earth 4.
Enter an Attendant.
Grates me:-The sum
How, my love!
2 Triple is here used for third, or one of three; one of the Triumvirs, one of the three masters of the world. To sustain the pillars of the earth is a scriptural phrase. Triple is used for third in All's Well that Ends Well :
• Which, as the dearest issue of his practice,
He bade me store up as a triple eye.' 3 So in Romeo and Juliet:
• They are but beggars that can count their worth.' And in Much Ado about Nothing:
'I were but little happy, if I could say how much.?
Martial, vi. 36. 4 • Then must you set the boundary at a distance greater than the present visible universe affords.
5 • Be brief, sum thy business in a few words.'
6 i. e. the news; which was considered plural in Shakspeare's time. See King Richard III. Act iv. Sc. 4, note 38.
7 Take in, it has before been observed, signifies subdue, conquer.
You must not stay here longer, your dismission
sengers. Ant. Let Rome in Tyber melt! and the wide arch Of the rang’do empire fall! Here is my space; Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike Feeds beast as man: the nobleness of life Is, to do thus; when such a mutual pair,
But 11 stirr’d by Cleopatra.8 Process here means summons. •Lawyers call that the processe by which a man is called into the court, and no more. To serve with processe is to cite, to summon,'- Minsheu.
9 The rang’d empire is the well arranged, well ordered empire. Shakspeare uses the expression again in Coriolanus :
bury all which yet distinctly, ranges In heaps and piles of ruins.' 10 To weet is to know.
11 I think that Johnson has entirely mistaken the meaning of this passage, and believe Mason's explanation nearly correct. Cleopatra means to say that 'Antony will act like himself,' (i. e. nobly), without regard to the mandates of Cæsar or the anger of Fulvia. To which he replies, ‘But stirr’d by Cleopatra,' i.e. ' Add if moved to it by Cleopatra. This is a compliment to her. Johnson was wrong in supposing but to bę used here in its exceptive sense.
Now, for the love of Love 19, and her soft hours,
Cleo. Hear the ambassadors.
Fye, wrangling queen!
[Exeunt Ant. and Cleo. with their Train. Dem. Is Cæsar with Antonius priz'd so slight?
Phi. Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony,
[Exeunt. 12 That is, ‘for the sake of the Queen of Love. See Comedy of Errors, vol. iv. p. 162, note 9.
13 To confound the time, is to consume it, to lose it. See vol. v, p. 139, note 11. Quicquid enim dicit, seu facit, omne decet.'
Marullus, lib. ii. See Shakspeare's 150th Sonnet.
15 The folio reads, who every, &c.: corrected by Rowe.
16 « Sometime also when he would goe up and down the city disguised like a slave in the night, and would peere into poor mens windows and their shops, and scold and brawl with them within the house; Cleopatra would be also in a chambermaid's array, and amble up and down the streets with him.'
Life of Antonius in North's Plutarch. 17 .That he proves the common liar, Fame, in his case to be a true reporter. Shakspeare usually uses approve for prove, and approof for proof.
I'm full sorry,