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But let it be.—I am quickly ill, and well,
So Antony loves'.
My precious queen, forbear;
And give true credence to his love, which stands
An honourable trial.
So Fulvia told me.
I pr'ythee, turn aside, and weep for her;
You'll heat my blood: no more.
And target.-Still he mends;
But this is not the best. Look, pr'ythee, Charmian,
The carriage of his chafe.
Ant. I'll leave you, lady.
Courteous lord, one word.
Sir, you and I must part,-but that's not it:
And I am all forgotten.
But that your royalty
Holds idleness your subject, I should take you
To bear such idleness so near the heart,
As Cleopatra this. But, sir, forgive me;
Since my becomings kill me, when they do not
-I am quickly ill, and well,
So Antony loves.] i. e. Probably, "I am quickly ill or well, according as Antony loves me." First Cleopatra tells Charmian to cut her lace, then to "let it be," the necessity being at an end, in consequence, perhaps, of receiving some indication of love from Antony.
5 And give true CREDENCE to his love,] There can be no hesitation in adopting here the excellent emendation of the corr. fo. 1632, viz. "credence" for evidence: it suits both measure and meaning admirably; but the folios have evidence, and that has hitherto been the text, although it was necessary, for the sake of the verse, to pronounce "evidence" ev'dence. Cleopatra was not to give evidence, but belief, to the affection of Antony.
6 Now, by MY sword,] "My" is omitted in the folio, 1623, but added in the folio, 1632.
Eye well to you. Your honour calls you
And all the gods go with you! upon your sword
Be strew'd before your feet!
Let us go.-Come;
That thou, residing here, go'st yet with me,
Rome. An Apartment in CESAR's House.
Enter OCTAVIUS CESAR, LEPIDUS, and Attendants.
Caes. You may see, Lepidus, and henceforth know, It is not Cæsar's natural vice to hate
Our great competitor. From Alexandria
This is the news: he fishes, drinks, and wastes
More womanly than he hardly gave audience, or
Vouchsaf'd to think he had partners: you shall find there A man, who is the abstract of all faults
That all men follow.
I must not think, there are
His faults, in him, seem as the spots of heaven,
Cæs. You are too indulgent. Let us grant, it is not
7 Sit LAUREL'D victory,] "Laurel'd victory" is the emendation of the folio, 1632: that of 1623 has “laurel victory." In all probability the letter d had dropped out in the press.
8 OUR great competitor.] It is "One great competitor" in the early editions; but Johnson proposed to amend One to "Our," and he was right, as is shown by the corr. fo. 1632.
9 VOUCHSAF'D to think] Vouchsafe in the folio, 1623, which the folio, 1632, unsatisfactorily altered to "did vouchsafe."
Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy;
To give a kingdom for a mirth; to sit
And keep the turn of tippling with a slave;
To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet
With knaves that smell of sweat: say, this becomes him, (As his composure must be rare indeed,
Whom these things cannot blemish) yet must Antony
No way excuse his foils', when we do bear
So great weight in his lightness. If he fill'd
Full surfeits, and the dryness of his bones,
Enter a Messenger.
Here's more news.
Mess. Thy biddings have been done; and every hour,
How 'tis abroad. Pompey is strong at sea;
That only have fear'd Cæsar: to the ports
I should have known no less.
No way excuse his FOILS,] Our reading is that of the folio, 1623, and of all the subsequent editions in that form. Malone and modern editors have altered foils" to soils, without sufficient necessity: the "foils" of Antony are his vices, his foibles (possibly Shakespeare's word, though, according to our dictionaries, not so old), which foil, or defeat, the exercise of his virtues.
* Full surfeits, and the dryness of his bones,
FALL on him for't;] Here Mr. Singer, with some apparent unscrupulousness, adopts the emendation of the corr. fo. 1632 ("Notes and Emendations," p. 487), viz. "Fall" for Call. The alteration is trifling, but it never, that we are aware of, was hinted at before 1853, and all editors, until Mr. Singer's time, printed "Call on him for't." He was quite right to use " Fall," but surely not right to leave it to be supposed that it was his own unprompted emendation.
3 to the PORTS] "To the fleets" in the corr. fo. 1632, with some plausibility; but though we may believe "ports" to have been caught from the line below, we refrain from alteration, inasmuch as "ports" may be right. We are previously told that " Pompey is strong at sea,' and to say that the "discontents" repair" to the fleets," is what might have been expected.
It hath been taught us, from the primal state,
And the ebb'd man ne'er lov'd, till ne'er worth love,
Goes to, and back, lackeying the varying tide,
Cæsar, I bring thee word,
Menecrates and Menas, famous pirates,
Make the sea serve them; which they ear and wound
They make in Italy; the borders maritime
Taken as seen; for Pompey's name strikes more,
Leave thy lascivious wassails'. When thou once
Did famine follow; whom thou fought'st against,
Which beasts would cough at: thy palate then did deign
Yea, like the stag when snow the pasture sheets,
4 Comes Lov'D by being lack'd.] The old reading is "fear'd by being lack'd," which must be wrong; and we accept the emendation of the corr. fo. 1632 with confidence, not lessened by the Shakespearian alliteration thus afforded. The meaning is too plain to need explanation.
5 Goes to, and back, LACKEYING the varying tide,] "Lackeying" was Theobald's change, for lacking of the old copies, and not for lashing, as he erroneously asserts: no folio has lashing. The corruption of lacking for “lackeying" was very easy. Southern, in his folio, 1685, altered lacking to backing; but we much prefer Theobald's emendation.
- which they EAR] i. e. They plough, used metaphorically. See p. 139. 7 Leave thy lascivious WASSAILS.] The question here is, whether vassailes, as the word is printed in the folios, 1623 and 1632, be meant for "wassails," or merely for vassals. Either reading may be right; but vassal was not usually, though sometimes, spelt rassaile, and nothing is more likely than that the old compositor should use v for w. Cæsar has previously accused Antony of “ tippling with a slave," and "reeling the streets at noon," which countenances "wassails" as an old drinking term; and, in addition, we may state that vassailes is amended to "wassails" in the corr. fo. 1632.
It is reported, thou didst eat strange flesh,
'Tis pity of him.
Till which encounter,
Lep. Farewell, my lord. What you shall know, meantime, Of stirs abroad, I shall beseech you, sir, To let me be partaker. Cæs.
Doubt not, sir; I knew it for my bond. .
Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAs, and MARDIAN.
Cleo. Ha, ha!
You think of him too much.
8 Assemble we immediate council :] The first folio misprints me for “ an error corrected by the second folio.
9 Give me to drink MANDRAGORA.] A strong opiate. See “not poppy nor mandragora” in “Othello," this Vol. p. 74.