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ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
“ Like the courser's hair." — Act I. Sc. 2. Holinshed says, “a horse haire laid in a full pale of the like water will in a short time stirre and became a living creature. But sith the certaintie of these things is rather proved by few."-STEEVENS.
“ Gilded puddle.”—Act I. Sc. 4. There is frequently observable on the surface of stagnant pools, that have remained long undisturbed, a reddish gold coloured slime; to this appearance the poet here refers.--HENLEY,
" Mandragora.”—Act I. Sc. 5. Gerard, in his Herbal, says of the mandragoras :—“ Dioscorides dothe particularly set downe many faculties hereof, of which notwithstanding there be none proper unto it, save those that depend upon the drowsie and sleeping power thereof.”—PERCY.
" That great medicine hath
With his tinct gilded thee."--Act I. Sc. 5. Alluding to the philosopher's stone, which, by its touch, converts base metal into gold. The alchemists call the matter, whatever it be, by which they perform transmutation, a medicine.-JOHNSON.
“I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail
Rich pearls upon thee.- Act II. Sc. 5. It is an eastern ceremony, at the coronation of their kings, to powder them with gold dust and seed pearl.—WARBURTON.
“A certain queen to Cæsar in a maltress.”—Act II. Sc. 6. “ Cleopatra trussed up in a mattrasse, and so brought to Cæsar, upon Apollodorus' backe.”—NORTH's PLUTARCH, 1579.
“ The goddess Isis."—Act III. Sc. 6. “ Now for Cleopatra, she did not only weare at that time (but al other times els, when she came abroad) the apparell of the goddesse Isis, and so gaue audience vnto all her subjects, as a new Isis."
" Whom leprosy o'ertake."—Act III. Sc. 8. Pliny, who says, the white leprosy, or elephanliasis, was not seen in Italy before the time of Pompey the Great, adds, it is "a peculiar ma ladie, and naturall to the Egyptians; but looke when any of their kings fell into it, woe worth the subjects and poor people: for then were the tubs and bathing vessels wherein they sate in the baine, filled with men's bloud for their cure."-REED.
" It was a king's."-Act IV. Sc. 8. “Then came Antony again to the palace greatly boasting of this victory, and sweetly kissed Cleopatra, armed as he was when he came from the fight, recommending one of his men of arms unto her, that had valiantly fought in this skirmish. Cleopatra, to reward his manliness, gave him an armour and head-piece of clean gold.”—North's PLUTARCH.
“ The pretty worm of Nile.”—Act V. Sc. 2. Worm is the Teutonick word for serpent ; we have the blind-worm and slow-worm still in our language, and the Norwegians call an enormous monster, sometimes seen in the Northern ocean, the sea-worm.
“ Tenantius." -Act I. Sc. 1. Tenantius was the father of Cymbeline, and nephew of Cassibelan, being the younger son of his elder brother Lud, king of the southern part of Britain; on whose death, Cassibelan was admitted king. Cassibelan repulsed the Romans on their first attack, but being vanquished by Julius Cæsar, he agreed to pay an annual tribute to Rome. After his decease, Tenantius was established on the throne. According to some writers, he quietly paid the tribute, others say he refused it, and warred with the Romans. Shakspeare supposes the latter to be true, and follows Ho linshed, from whom he got the name of Sicilius. Leonatus is a name which occurs in Sydney's Arcadia.—MALONE.
“ All sworn and honourable."-Act II. Sc. 4. It was anciently the custom for the attendants on our nobility, and other great personages, (as it is now for the servants of the king) to take an oath of fidelity on their entering into office.—PERCY.
“ The ruddock would,
To winter-ground thy corse."—Act IV. Sc. 2.
*Cov'ring with moss the dead's unclosed eye,
And in an old book called Cornucopia, it is said: “The Robin Redbreast, if he find a man or woman dead, will cover all his face with mosse, and some thinke that if the bodye should remaine unburied, that he would cover the whole bodye also." We all remember “ The Children in the Wood.”
• Ay, come, Semiramis." — Act II. Sc. 3. "Queen Semiramis loved a great horse that she had, so farre forth, that she was content he should doe his kind with her.”
Pliny's Nat. HIST. “A precious ring."-Act II. Sc. 4. There is supposed to be a gem called a carbuncle, which emits not reflected, but native light. Boyle believed in its existence.- JOHNSON.
“As far from help as limbo is from bliss."—Act III. Sc. 1. The limbus patrum, as it was called, is a place that the schoolmen fancied to be in the vicinity of hell, where the souls of the patriarchs, and of those good men who died before our Saviour's resurrection, were detained.
Honey-stalks to sheep."-Act IV. Sc. 4. Honey-stalks are clover-flowers, which contain a sweet juice. It is common for cattle to overcharge themselves with clover, and die.
JOHNSON. “ Bring down the devil.”—Act V. Sc. 1. It appears from these words, that the audience were amused with part of the apparatus of an execution, and that Aaron was mounted on a ladder, as ready to be turned off:-STEEVENS.
• Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred."— Act V. Sc. 3. The additions made by Ravenscroft to this scene, are so much of a piece with it, that we cannot omit showing the reader how he continues the speech before us:
“ Thus cramm’d, thou’rt bravely fatten'd up for hell,
[Stabs the Emperess. And then—"A curtain drawn discovers the heads and hands of Chiron and Demetrius hanging up against the wall; their bodies in chains in bloody linen.”-STEEVENS.
“ Some stay to see him fasten'd in the earth.”—Act V. Sc. 3. That justice and cookery may go hand in hand to the conclusion of this play, in Ravenscroft's alteration of it, Aaron is at once racked and roasted on the stage.
We have already given specimens of the changes made in this piece