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Alexandria. A Room in the Palace.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAS, and ALEXAS. CLEO. Give me some musick; musick, moody food 6
Of us that trade in love.
The musick, ho!
CLEO. Let it alone; let us to billiards": Come, Charmian.
CHAR. My arm is sore, best play with Mardian. CLEO. As well a woman with an eunuch play'd,
As with a woman;-Come, you'll play with me, sir?
MAR. As well as I can, madam.
CLEO. And when good will is show'd, though it come too short,
The actor may plead pardon. I'll none now:Give me mine angle,—We'll to the river: there,
6 musick, MOODY food-] The mood is the mind, or mental disposition. Van Haaren's panegyrick on the English begins, "Grootmoedig Volk [great minded nation]." Perhaps here is a poor jest intended between mood the mind and moods of musick. JOHNSON.
Moody, in this instance, means melancholy. Cotgrave explains moody, by the French words, morne and trifle. STEEVENS. So, in The Comedy of Errors:
"Sweet recreation barr'd, what doth ensue,
7 — let us to BILLIARDS:] This is one of the numerous anachronisms that are found in these plays. This game was not known in ancient times. MALONE.
8 And when good will is show'd, though it come too short, The actor may plead pardon.] A similar sentiment has already appeared in A Midsummer-Night's Dream:
"For never any thing can be amiss,
"When simpleness and duty tender it." STEEVENS.
My musick playing far off, I will betray
CHAR. 'Twas merry, when You wager'd on your angling; when your diver Did hang a salt-fish' on his hook, which he With fervency drew up. . CLEO.
That time!-O times!I laugh'd him out of patience; and that night I laugh'd him into patience and next morn, Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed; Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst I wore his sword Philippan 2. O! from Italy?
Enter a Messenger.
Ram thou thy fruitful tidings in mine ears,
9 Tawny-finn'd fishes ;] The first copy reads: Tawny fine fishes." JOHNSON.
Corrected by Mr. Theobald. MALONE.
'Did hang a salt-fish, &c.] This circumstance is likewise taken from Sir Thomas North's translation of the life of Antony in Plutarch. STEEVENS.
I wore his sword Philippan.] We are not to suppose, nor is there any warrant from history, that Antony had any particular sword so called. The dignifying weapons, in this sort, is a custom of much more recent date. This therefore seems a compliment à posteriori. We find Antony, afterwards, in this play, boasting of his own prowess at Philippi :
"Ant. Yes, my lord, yes; he at Philippi kept
That was the greatest action of Antony's life; and therefore this seems a fine piece of flattery, intimating, that this sword ought to be denominated from that illustrious battle, in the same manner as modern heroes in romances are made to give their swords pompous names. THEOBALD.
3 RAM thou thy fruitful tidings-] Shakspeare probably
That long time have been barren.
CLEO. Antony's dead?
If thou say so, villain, thou kill'st thy mistress:
If thou so yield him, there is gold, and here
MESS. First, madam, he is well.
wrote, (as Sir T. Hanmer observes,) "Rain thou," &c. Rain agrees better with the epithets fruitful and barren. So, in Timon: "Rain sacrificial whisp'rings in his ear:
Again, in The Tempest :
Why, there's more gold.
I suspect no corruption. The term employed in the text is much in the style of the speaker; and is supported incontestably by a passage in Julius Cæsar:
Again, in Cymbeline:
I go to meet
"The noble Brutus, thrusting this report
-say, and speak thick,
"(Love's counsellor should fill the bores of hearing, "To the smothering of the sense,) how far," &c. Again, in The Tempest:
"You cram these words into my ears, against
Ram is a vulgar word, never used in our author's plays, but once by Falstaff, where he describes his situation in the buckbasket. In the passage before us, it is evidently a misprint for rain. The quotation from Julius Cæsar does not support the old reading at all, the idea being perfectly distinct. RITSON. Ramm'd, however, occurs in King John:
"Have we ramm'd up your gates against the world." STEEVENS.
4 But well and free, &c.] This speech is but coldly imitated by Beaumont and Fletcher, in The False One:
Cleop. What of him? Speak: if ill, Apollodorus, "It is my happiness: and for thy news "Receive a favour kings have kneel'd in vain for, "And kiss my hand." STEEVens.
To say, the dead are well: bring it to that,
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 snakes,
Not like a formal mant
Will't please you hear me? CLEO. I have a mind to strike thee, ere thou speak'st:
Yet, if thou say, Antony lives, is well,
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:
"Be free, and healthful,-why so tart a favour
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. MALONE. We surely should read-is well. The Messenger is to have
I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
MESS. And friends with Cæsar.
Thou'rt an honest man. MESS. Cæsar and he are greater friends than
Madam, he's well.
CLEO. Make thee a fortune from me.
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,
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.