ALL FOR LOVE; OR THE WORLD WELL LOST
by John Dryden
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THOMASEARL OF DANBY -
Viscount Latimerand Baron Osborne of Kivetonin Yorkshire; Lord HighTreasurer of Englandone of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy CouncilandKnight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.
MY LORD- The gratitude of poets is so troublesome a virtue to great menthat you are often in danger of your own benefits: for you are threatened withsome epistleand not suffered to do good in quietor to compound for theirsilence whom you have obliged. YetI confessI neither am nor ought to besurprised at this indulgence; for your lordship has the same right to favourpoetrywhich the great and noble have ever had- -
Carmen amatquisquis carmine digna gerit. -
There is somewhat of a tie in nature betwixt those who are born for worthyactionsand those who can transmit them to posterity; and though ours be muchthe inferior partit comes at least within the verge of alliance; nor are weunprofitable members of the commonwealthwhen we animate others to thosevirtueswhich we copy and describe from you.
It is indeed their interestwho endeavour the subversion of governmentstodiscourage poets and historians; for the best which can happen to themis to beforgotten. But such whounder kingsare the fathers of their countryand by ajust and prudent ordering of affairs preserve ithave the same reason tocherish the chroniclers of their actionsas they have to lay up in safety thedeeds and evidences of their estates; for such records are their undoubtedtitles to the love and reverence of after ages. Your lordship's administrationhas already taken up a considerable part of the English annals; and many of itsmost happy years are owing to it. His Majestythe most knowing judge of menand the best masterhas acknowledged the ease and benefit he receives in theincomes of his treasurywhich you found not only disorderedbut exhausted. Allthings were in the confusion of a chaoswithout form or methodif not reducedbeyond iteven to annihilation; so that you had not only to separate thejarring elementsbut (if that boldness of expression might be allowed me) tocreate them. Your enemies had so embroiled the management of your officethatthey looked on your advancement as the instrument of your ruin. And as if theclogging of the revenueand the confusion of accountswhich you found in yourentrancewere not sufficientthey added their own weight of malice to thepublic calamityby forestalling the credit which should cure it. Your friendson the other side were only capable of pityingbut not of aiding you; nofurther help or counsel was remaining to youbut what was founded on yourself;and that indeed was your security; for your diligenceyour constancyand yourprudencewrought most surely withinwhen they were not disturbed by anyoutward motion. The highest virtue is best to be trusted with itself; forassistance only can be given by a genius superior to that which it assists; andit is the noblest kind of debtwhen we are only obliged to God and nature. Thisthenmy lordis your just commendationthat you have wrought out yourself away to gloryby those very means that were designed for your destruction. Youhave not only restored but advanced the revenues of your masterwithoutgrievance to the subject; andas if that were little yetthe debts of theexchequerwhich lay heaviest both on the crownand on private personshave byyour conduct been established in a certainty of satisfaction. An action so muchthe more great and honourablebecause the case was without the ordinary reliefof laws; above the hopes of the afflicted and beyond the narrowness of thetreasury to redresshad it been managed by a less able hand. It is certainlythe happiestand most unenvied part of all your fortuneto do good to manywhile you do injury to none; to receive at once the prayers of the subjectandthe praises of the prince; andby the care of your conductto give him meansof exerting the chiefest (if any be the chiefest) of his royal virtueshisdistributive justice to the deservingand his bounty and compassion to thewanting. The disposition of princes towards their people cannot be betterdiscovered than in the choice of their ministers; wholike the animal spiritsbetwixt the soul and bodyparticipate somewhat of both naturesand make thecommunication which is betwixt them. A kingwho is just and moderate in hisnaturewho rules according to the lawswhom God has made happy by forming thetemper of his soul to the constitution of his governmentand who makes ushappyby assuming over us no other sovereignty than that wherein our welfareand liberty consists; a princeI sayof so excellent a characterand sosuitable to the wishes of all good mencould not better have conveyed himselfinto his people's apprehensionsthan in your lordship's person; who so livelyexpress the same virtuesthat you seem not so much a copyas an emanation ofhim. Moderation is doubtless an establishment of greatness; but there is asteadiness of temper which is likewise requisite in a minister of state; soequal a mixture of both virtuesthat he may stand like an isthmus betwixt thetwo encroaching seas of arbitrary powerand lawless anarchy. The undertakingwould be difficult to any but an extraordinary geniusto stand at the lineandto divide the limits; to pay what is due to the great representative of thenationand neither to enhancenor to yield upthe undoubted prerogatives ofthe crown. Thesemy lordare the proper virtues of a noble Englishmanasindeed they are properly English virtues; no people in the world being capableof using thembut we who have the happiness to be born under so equaland sowell-poised a government;- a government which has all the advantages of libertybeyond a commonwealthand all the marks of kingly sovereigntywithout thedanger of a tyranny. Both my natureas I am an Englishmanand my reasonas Iam a manhave bred in me a loathing to that specious name of a republic; thatmock appearance of a libertywhere all who have not part in the governmentareslaves; and slaves they are of a viler notethan such as are subjects to anabsolute dominion. For no Christian monarchy is so absolutebut it iscircumscribed with laws; but when the executive power is in the law-makersthere is no further check upon them; and the people must suffer without a remedybecause they are oppressed by their
representatives. If I must servethe number of my masterswho were born myequalswould but add to the ignominy of my bondage. The nature of ourgovernmentabove all othersis exactly suited both to the situation of ourcountryand the temper of the natives; an island being more proper for commerceand for defencethan for extending its dominions on the Continent; for what thevalour of its inhabitants might gainby reason of its remotenessand thecasualties of the seasit could not so easily preserve. Andthereforeneitherthe arbitrary power of Onein a monarchynor of Manyin a commonwealthcouldmake us greater than we are. It is truethat vaster and more frequent taxesmight be gatheredwhen the consent of the people was not asked or needed; butthis were only by conquering abroadto be poor at home; and the examples of ourneighbours teach usthat they are not always the happiest subjectswhose kingsextend their dominions farthest. Since therefore we cannot win by an offensivewarat least a land warthe model of our government seems naturally contrivedfor the defensive part; and the consent of a people is easily obtained tocontribute to that power which must protect it. Felices nimiumbona si suanorintAngligenae! And yet there are not wanting malcontents among uswhosurfeiting themselves on too much happinesswould persuade the people that theymight be happier by a change. It was indeed the policy of their old forefatherwhen himself was fallen from the station of gloryto seduce mankind into thesame rebellion with himby telling him he might yet be freer than he was; thatis more free than his nature would alloworif I may so saythan God couldmake him. We have already all the liberty which freeborn subjects can enjoyandall beyond it is but licence. But if it be liberty of conscience which theypretendthe moderation of our church is suchthat its practice extends not tothe severity of persecution; and its discipline is withal so easythat itallows more freedom to dissenters than any of the sects would allow to it. Inthe meantimewhat right can be pretended by these men to attempt innovation inchurch or state? Who made them the trusteesor to speak a little nearer theirown languagethe keepers of the liberty of England? If their call beextraordinarylet them convince us by working miracles; for ordinary vocationthey can have noneto disturb the government under which they were bornandwhich protects them. He who has often changed his partyand always has made hisinterest the rule of itgives little evidence of his sincerity for the publicgood; it is manifest he changes but for himselfand takes the people for toolsto work his fortune. Yet the experience of all ages might let him knowthatthey who trouble the waters firsthave seldom the benefit of the fishing; asthey who began the late rebellion enjoyed not the fruit of their undertakingbut were crushed themselves by the usurpation of their own instrument. Neitheris it enough for them to answerthat they only intend a reformation of thegovernmentbut not the subversion of it: on such pretence all insurrectionshave been founded; it is striking at the foot of powerwhich is obedience.Every remonstrance of private men has the seed of treason in it; and discourseswhich are couched in ambiguous termsare therefore the more dangerousbecausethey do all the mischief of open seditionyet are safe from the punishment ofthe laws. Thesemy lordare considerationswhich I should not pass so lightlyoverhad I room to manage them as they deserve; for no man can be soinconsiderable in a nationas not to have a share in the welfare of it; and ifhe be a true Englishmanhe must at the same time be fired with indignationandrevenge himself as he can on the disturbers of his country. And to whom could Imore fitly apply myself than to your lordshipwho have not only an inbornbutan hereditary loyalty? The memorable constancy and sufferings of your fatheralmost to the ruin of his estatefor the royal causewere an earnest of thatwhich such a parent and such an institution would produce in the person of a son.But so unhappy an occasion of manifesting your own zealin suffering for hispresent majestythe providence of Godand the prudence of your administrationwillI hopeprevent; thatas your father's fortune waited on the unhappinessof his sovereignso your own may participate of the better fate which attendshis son. The relation which you have by alliance to the noble family of yourladyserves to confirm to you both this happy augury. For what can deserve agreater place in the English chroniclethan the loyalty and couragetheactions and deathof the general of an armyfighting for his prince andcountry? The honor and gallantry of the Earl of Lindsey is so illustrious asubjectthat it is fit to adorn an heroic poem; for he was the proto-martyr ofthe causeand the type of his unfortunate royal master.
Yet after allmy lordif I may speak my thoughtsyou are happy rather tous than to yourself; for the multiplicitythe caresand the vexations of youremploymenthave betrayed you from yourselfand given you up into thepossession of the public. You are robbed of your privacy and friendsand scarceany hour of your life you can call your own. Thosewho envy your fortuneifthey wanted not good-naturemight more justly pity it; and when they see youwatched by a crowd of suitorswhose importunity it is impossible to avoidwould concludewith reasonthat you have lost much more in true contentthanyou have gained by dignity; and that a private gentleman is better attended by asingle servantthan your lordship with so clamorous a train. Pardon memylordif I speak like a philosopher on this subject; the fortune which makes aman uneasycannot make him happy; and a wise man must think himself uneasywhen few of his actions are in his choice.
This last consideration has brought me to anotherand a very seasonable onefor your relief; which isthat while I pity your want of leisureI haveimpertinently detained you so long a time. I have put off my own businesswhichwas my dedicationtill it is so latethat I am now ashamed to begin it; andtherefore I will say nothing of the poemwhich I present to youbecause I knownot if you are like to have an hourwhichwith a good conscienceyou maythrow away in perusing it; and for the authorI have only to beg thecontinuance of your protection to himwho ismy lordyour lordship's mostobligedmost humbleand most obedient servant
The death of Antony and Cleopatra is a subject which has been treated by thegreatest wits of our nationafter Shakespeare; and by all so variouslythattheir example has given me the confidence to try myself in this bow of Ulyssesamongst the crowd of suitors andwithalto take my own measuresin aiming atthe mark. I doubt not but the same motive has prevailed with all of us in thisattempt; I mean the excellency of the moral. For the chief persons representedwere famous patterns of unlawful love; and their end accordingly was unfortunate.All reasonable men have long since concludedthat the hero of the poem oughtnot to be a character of perfect virtuefor then he could notwithoutinjusticebe made unhappy; nor yet altogether wickedbecause he could not thenbe pitied. I have therefore steered the middle course; and have drawn thecharacter of Antony as favourably as PlutarchAppianand Dion Cassius wouldgive me leave; the like I have observed in Cleopatra. That which is wanting towork up the pity to a greater heightwas not afforded me
by the story; for the crimes of lovewhich they both committedwere notoccasioned by any necessityor fatal ignorancebut were wholly voluntary;since our passions areor ought to bewithin our power. The fabric of the playis regular enoughas to the inferior parts of it; and the unities of timeplaceand actionmore exactly observedthan perhaps the English theatrerequires. Particularlythe action is so much onethat it is the only of thekind without episodeor underplot; every scene in the tragedy conducing to themain designand every act concluding with a turn of it. The greatest error inthe contrivance seems to be in the person of Octavia; forthough I might usethe privilege of a poetto introduce her into Alexandriayet I had not enoughconsideredthat the compassion she moved to herself and children wasdestructive to that which I reserved for Antony and Cleopatra; whose mutual lovebeing founded upon vicemust lessen the favour of the audience to themwhenvirtue and innocence were oppressed by it. Andthough I justified Antony insome measureby making Octavia's departure to proceed wholly from herself; yetthe force of the first machine still remained; and the dividing of pitylikethe cutting of a river into many channelsabated the strength of the naturalstream. But this is an objection which none of my critics have urged against meand therefore I might have let it passif I could have resolved to have beenpartial to myself. The faults my enemies have found are rather cavils concerninglittle and not essential decencies; which a master of the ceremonies may decidebetwixt us. The French poetsI confessare strict observers of thesepunctilios. They would notfor examplehave suffered Cleopatra and Octavia tohave met; orif they had metthere must have only passed betwixt them somecold civilitiesbut no eagerness of reparteefor fear of offending against thegreatness of their charactersand the modesty of their sex. This objection Iforesawand at the same time contemned; for I judged it both natural andprobablethat Octaviaproud of her new-gained conquestwould search outCleopatrato triumph over her; and that Cleopatrathus attackedwas not of aspirit to shun the encounter. And it is not unlikelythat two exasperatedrivals should use such satire as I have put into their mouths; forafter allthough the one were a Romanand the other a queenthey were both women. It istruesome actionsthough naturalare not fit to be represented; and broadobscenities in words ought in good manners to be avoided: expressions thereforeare a modest clothing of our thoughtsas breeches and petticoats are of ourbodies. If I have kept myself within the bounds of modestyall beyondit isbut nicety and affectation; which is no more but modesty depraved into a vice.They betray themselves who are too quick of apprehension in such casesandleave all reasonable men to imagine worse of themthan of the poet.
Honest Montaigne goes yet further: Nous ne sommes que ceremonie; la ceremonienous emporteet laissons la substance des choses. Nous nous tenons auxbrancheset abandonnons le tronc et le corps. Nous avons appris aux dames derougiroyans seulement nommer ce qu'elles ne craignent aucunement a faire: Nousn'osons appeller a droit nos membreset ne craignons pas de les employer atoute sorte de debauche. La ceremonie nous defend d'exprimer par paroles leschoses licites et naturelleset nous l'en croyons; la raison nous defend den'en faire point d'illicites et mauvaiseset personne ne l'en croit. My comfortisthat by this opinion my enemies are but sucking criticswho would fain benibbling ere their teeth are come.
Yetin this nicety of manners does the excellency of French poetry consist.Their heroes are the most civil people breathing; but their good breeding seldomextends to a word of sense; all their wit is in their ceremony; they want thegenius which animates our stage; and therefore it is but necessarywhen theycannot pleasethat they should take care not to offend. But as the civilest manin the company is commonly the dullestso these authorswhile they are afraidto make you laugh or cryout of pure good manners make you sleep. They are socareful not to exasperate a criticthat they never leave him any work; so busywith the broomand make so clean a riddance that there is little left eitherfor censure or for praise. For no part of a poem is worth our discommendingwhere the whole is insipid; as when we have once tasted of pallid winewe staynot to examine it glass by glass. But while they affect to shine in triflesthey are often careless in essentials. Thustheir Hippolytus is so scrupulousin point of decencythat he will rather expose himself to deaththan accusehis stepmother to his father; and my critics I am sure will commend him for it.But we of grosser apprehensions are apt to think that this excess of generosityis not practicablebut with fools and madmen. This was good manners with avengeance; and the audience is like to be much concerned at the misfortunes ofthis admirable hero. But take Hippolytus out of his poetic fitand I suppose hewould think it a wiser part to set the saddle on the right horseand chooserather to live with the reputation of a plain-spokenhonest manthan to diewith the infamy of an incestuous villain. In the meantime we may take noticethat where the poet ought to have preserved the character as it was delivered tous by antiquitywhen he should have given us the picture of a rough young manof the Amazonian straina jolly huntsmanand both by his profession and hisearly rising a mortal enemy to lovehe has chosen to give him the turn ofgallantrysent him to travel from Athens to Paristaught him to make loveandtransformed the Hippolytus of Euripides into Monsieur Hippolyte. I should nothave troubled myself thus far with French poetsbut that I find our Chedreuxcritics wholly form their judgments by them. But for my partI desire to betried by the laws of my own country; for it seems unjust to methat the Frenchshould prescribe heretill they have conquered. Our little sonneteerswhofollow themhave too narrow souls to judge of poetry. Poets themselves are themost properthough I conclude not the only critics. But till some geniusasuniversal as Aristotleshall ariseone who can penetrate into all arts andscienceswithout the practice of themI shall think it reasonablethat thejudgment of an artificer in his own art should be preferable to the opinion ofanother man; at least where he is not bribed by interestor prejudiced bymalice. And thisI supposeis manifest by plain inductions. Forfirstthecrowd cannot be presumed to have more than a gross instinctof what pleases ordispleases them. Every man will grant me this; but thenby a particularkindness to himselfhe draws his own stake firstand will be distinguishedfrom the multitudeof which other men may think him one. Butif I come closerto those who are allowed for witty meneither by the advantage of theirqualityor by common fameand affirm that neither are they qualified to decidesovereignly concerning poetryI shall yet have a strong party of my opinion;for most of them severally will exclude the resteither from the number ofwitty menor at least of able judges. But here again they are all indulgent tothemselves; and every one who believes himself a witthat isevery manwillpretend at the same time to a right of judging. But to press it yet furtherthere are many witty menbut few poets; neither have all poets a taste oftragedy. And this is the rock on which they are daily splitting. Poetrywhichis a picture of naturemust generally please; but it is not to be understoodthat all parts of it must please every man; therefore is not tragedy to bejudged by a witty manwhose taste is only confined to comedy. Nor is every manwho
loves tragedya sufficient judge of it; he must understand the excellencesof it tooor he will only prove a blind admirernot a critic. From hence itcomes that so many satires on poetsand censures of their writingsfly abroad.Men of pleasant conversation (at least esteemed so)and endued with a triflingkind of fancyperhaps helped out with some smattering of Latinare ambitiousto distinguish themselves from the herd of gentlemenby their poetry- -
Rarus enim ferme sensus communis in illa
And is not this a wretched affectationnot to be contented with what fortunehas done for themand sit down quietly with their estatesbut they must calltheir wits in questionand needlessly expose their nakedness to public view?Not considering that they are not to expect the same approbation from sober menwhich they have found from their flatterers after the third bottle. If a littleglittering in discourse has passed them on us for witty menwhere was thenecessity of undeceiving the world? Would a man who has an ill title to anestatebut yet is in possession of it; would he bring it of his own accordtobe tried at Westminster? We who writeif we want the talentyet have theexcuse that we do it for a poor subsistence; but what can be urged in theirdefencewhonot having the vocation of poverty to scribbleout of merewantonness take pains to make themselves ridiculous? Horace was certainly in theright where he said"That no man is satisfied with his owncondition." A poet is not pleasedbecause he is not rich; and the rich arediscontentedbecause the poets will not admit them of their number. Thus thecase is hard with writers. If they succeed notthey must starve; and if theydosome malicious satire is prepared to level themfor daring to pleasewithout their leave. But while they are so eager to destroy the fame of otherstheir ambition is manifest in their concernment; some poem of their own is to beproducedand the slaves are to be laid flat with their faces on the groundthat the monarch may appear in the greater majesty.
Dionysius and Nero had the same longingsbut with all their power they couldnever bring their business well about. 'Tis truethey proclaimed themselvespoets by sound of trumpet; and poets they wereupon pain of death to any manwho durst call them otherwise. The audience had a fine time on'tyou mayimagine; they sat in a bodily fearand looked as demurely as they could: for itwas a hanging matter to laugh unseasonably; and the tyrants were suspiciousasthey had reasonthat their subjects had them in the wind; soevery manin hisown defenceset as good a face upon the business as he could. It was knownbeforehand that the monarchs were to be crowned laureates; but when the show wasoverand an honest man was suffered to depart quietlyhe took out his laughterwhich he had stifledwith a firm resolution never more to see an emperor'splaythough he had been ten years a-making it. In the meantime the true poetswere they who made the best markets: for they had wit enough to yield the prizewith a good graceand not contend with him who had thirty legions. They weresure to be rewardedif they confessed themselves bad writersand that wassomewhat better than to be martyrs for their reputation. Lucan's example wasenough to teach them manners; and after he was put to deathfor overcomingNerothe emperor carried it without dispute for the best poet in his dominions.No man was ambitious of that grinning honour; for if he heard the malicioustrumpeter proclaiming his name before his bettershe knew there was but one waywith him. Maecenas took another courseand we know he was more than a greatmanfor he was witty too: but finding himself far gone in poetrywhich Senecaassures us was not his talenthe thought it his best way to be well with Virgiland with Horace; that at least he might be a poet at the second hand; and we seehow happily it has succeeded with him; for his own bad poetry is forgottenandtheir panegyrics of him still remain. But they who should be our patrons are forno such expensive ways to fame; they have much of the poetry of Maecenasbutlittle of his liberality. They are for persecuting Horace and Virgilin thepersons of their successors; for such is every man who has any part of theirsoul and firethough in a less degree. Some of their little zanies yet gofurther; for they are persecutors even of Horace himselfas far as they areableby their ignorant and vile imitations of him; by making an unjust use ofhis authorityand turning his artillery against his friends. But how would hedisdain to be copied by such hands! I dare answer for himhe would be moreuneasy in their companythan he was with Crispinustheir forefatherin theHoly Way; and would no more have allowed them a place amongst the criticsthanhe would Demetrius the mimicand Tigellius the buffoon; -
Discipulorum inter jubeo plorare cathedras. -
With what scorn would he look down on such miserable translatorswho makedoggerel of his Latinmistake his meaningmisapply his censuresand oftencontradict their own? He is fixed as a landmark to set out the bounds of poetry--
Limes agro posituslitem ut discerneret arvis. -
But other arms than theirsand other sinews are requiredto raise theweight of such an author; and when they would toss him against enemies- -
Genua labantgelidus concrevit frigore sanguis.
Tum lapis ipse virivacuum per inane volatus
Nec spatium evasit totumnec pertulit ictum. -
For my partI would wish no other revengeeither for myselfor the rest ofthe poetsfrom this rhyming judge of the twelve-penny gallerythis legitimateson of Sternholdthan that he would subscribe his name to his censureor (notto tax him beyond his learning) set his mark. Forshould he own himselfpubliclyand come from behind the lion's skinthey whom be condemns would bethankful to himthey whom he praises would choose to be condemned; and themagistrateswhom he has electedwould modestly withdraw from their employmentto avoid the scandal of his nomination. The sharpness of his satirenext tohimselffalls most heavily on his friendsand they ought never to forgive himfor commending them perpetually the wrong wayand sometimes by contraries. Ifhe have a friendwhose hastiness in writing is his greatest faultHorace wouldhave taught him to have minced the matterand to have called it readiness ofthoughtand a flowing fancy; for friendship will allow a man to christen animperfection by the name of some neighbour virtue- -
Vellem in amicitia sic erraremus; et isti
Errori nomen virtus posuisset honestum. -
But he would never have allowed him to have called a slow man hastyor ahasty writer a slow drudgeas Juvenal explains it- -
-Canibus pigrisscabieque vetusta
Laevibuset siccae lambentibus ora lucernae
Nomen eritPardusTigrisLeo; si quid adhuc est
Quod fremit in terris violentius. -
Yet Lucretius laughs at a foolish lovereven for excusing the imperfectionsof his mistress- -
Nigra melichroos estimmunda et faetida akosmos.
Balba loqui non quittraylizei; muta pudens estetc. -
But to drive it ad AEthiopem cygnum is not to be endured. I leave him tointerpret this by the benefit of his French version on the other sideandwithout further considering himthan I have the rest of my illiterate censorswhom I have disdained to answerbecause they are not qualified for judges. Itremains that I acquaint the readerthat I have endeavoured in this play tofollow the practice of the ancientswhoas Mr. Rymer has judiciously observedare and ought to be our masters. Horace likewise gives it for a rule in his artof poetry- -
-Vos exemplaria Graeca
Nocturna versate manuversate diurna. -
Yetthough their models are regularthey are too little for Englishtragedy; which requires to be built in a larger compass. I could give aninstance in the OEdipus Tyrannuswhich was the masterpiece of Sophocles; but Ireserve it for a more fit occasionwhich I hope to have hereafter. In my styleI have professed to imitate the divine Shakespeare; which that I might performmore freelyI have disencumbered myself from rhyme. Not that I condemn myformer waybut that this is more proper to my present purpose. I hope I neednot explain myselfthat I have not copied my author servilely. Words andphrases must of necessity receive a change in succeeding ages; but it is almosta miracle that much of his language remains so pure; and that he who begandramatic poetry amongst usuntaught by anyand as Ben Jonson tells uswithoutlearningshould by the force of his own genius perform so muchthat in amanner he has left no praise for any who come after him. The occasion is fairand the subject would be pleasant to handle the difference of styles betwixt himand Fletcherand whereinand how far they are both to be imitated. But since Imust not be over-confident of my own performance after himit will be prudencein me to be silent. YetI hopeI may affirmand without vanitythatbyimitating himI have excelled myself throughout the play; and particularlythat I prefer the scene betwixt Antony and Ventidius in the first acttoanything which I have written in this kind.
WHAT flocks of critics hover here to-day
As vultures wait on armies for their prey
All gaping for the carcase of a play!
With croaking notes they bode some dire event
And follow dying poets by the scent.
Ours gives himself for gone; y'have watched your time:
He fights this day unarmed- without his rhyme;-
And brings a tale which often has been told;
As sad as Dido's; and almost as old.
His herowhom you wits his bully call
Bates of his mettleand scarce rants at all:
He's somewhat lewd; but a well-meaning mind;
Weeps much; fights little; but is wond'rous kind.
In shorta patternand companion fit
For all the keeping Tonies of the pit.
I could name more: a wifeand mistress too;
Both (to be plain) too good for most of you:
The wife well-naturedand the mistress true.
Nowpoetsif your fame has been his care
Allow him all the candour you can spare.
A brave man scorns to quarrel once a-day;
Like Hectors in at every petty fray.
Let those find fault whose wit's so very small
They've need to show that they can think at all;
Errorslike strawsupon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearlsmust dive below.
Fops may have leave to level all they can;
As pigmies would be glad to lop a man.
Half-wits are fleas; so little and so light
We scarce could know they livebut that they bite.
Butas the richwhen tired with daily feasts
For changebecome their next poor tenant's guests;
Drink hearty draughts of ale from plain brown bowls
And snatch the homely rasher from the coals:
So youretiring from much better cheer
For oncemay venture to do penance here.
And since that plenteous autumn now is past
Whose grapes and peaches have indulged your taste
Take in good partfrom our poor poet's board
Such rivelled fruits as winter can afford.
DRAMATIS PERSONAE -
ALEXASthe Queen's Eunuch.
SERAPIONPriest of Isis.
Servants to Antony. -
CLEOPATRAQueen of Egypt.
Antony's two little Daughters. -
SCENE I.- The Temple of Isis -
Enter SERAPIONMYRISPriests of Isis. -
SERAP. Portents and prodigies have grown so frequent
That they have lost their name. Our fruitful Nile
Flowed ere the wonted seasonwith a torrent
So unexpectedand so wondrous fierce
That the wild deluge overtook the haste
Even of the hinds that watched it: Men and beasts
Were borne above the tops of treesthat grew
On the utmost margin of the water-mark.
Thenwith so swift an ebb that flood drove backward
It slipt from underneath the scaly herd:
Here monstrous phocae: panted on the shore;
Forsaken dolphins there with their broad tails
Lay lashing the departing waves: hard by them
Sea horses floundering in the slimy mud
Tossed up their headsand dashed the ooze about them. -
Enter ALEXAS behind them. -
MYR. Avert these omensHeaven!
SERAP. Last nightbetween the hours of twelve and one
In a lone aisle of the temple while I walked
A whirlwind rosethatwith a violent blast
Shook all the dome: the doors around me clapt;
The iron wicketthat defends the vault
Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid
Burst openand disclosed the mighty dead.
From out each monumentin order placed
An armed ghost starts up: the boy-king last
Reared his inglorious head. A peal of groans
Then followedand a lamentable voice
CriedEgypt is no more! My blood ran back
My shaking knees against each other knocked;
On the cold pavement down I fell entranced
And so unfinished left the horrid scene.
ALEX. And dreamed you this? or did invent the story
To frighten our Egyptian boys withal
And train them upbetimesin fear of priesthood?
SERAP. My lordI saw you not
Nor meant my words should reach your ears; but what
I uttered was most true.
ALEX. A foolish dream
Bred from the fumes of indigested feasts
And holy luxury.
SERAP. I know my duty:
This goes no further.
ALEX. 'Tis not fit it should;
Nor would the times now bear itwere it true.
All southernfrom yon hillsthe Roman camp
Hangs o'er us black and threateninglike a storm
Just breaking on our heads.
SERAP. Our faint Egyptians pray for Antony;
But in their servile hearts they own Octavius.
MYR. Why then does Antony dream out his hours
And tempts not fortune for a noble day
Which might redeem what Actium lost?
ALEX. He thinks 'tis past recovery.
SERAP. Yet the foe
Seems not to press the siege.
ALEX. Ohthere's the wonder.
Maecenas and Agrippawho can most
With Caesarare his foes. His wife Octavia
Driven from his housesolicits her revenge;
And Dolabellawho was once his friend
Upon some private grudgenow seeks his ruin:
Yet still war seems on either side to sleep.
SERAP. 'Tis strange that Antonyfor some days past
Has not beheld the face of Cleopatra;
But herein Isis' templelives retired
And makes his heart a prey to black despair.
ALEX. 'Tis true; and we much fear he hopes by absence
To cure his mind of love.
SERAP. If he be vanquished
Or make his peaceEgypt is doomed to be
A Roman province; and our plenteous harvests
Must then redeem the scarceness of their soil.
While Antony stood firmour Alexandria
Rivalled proud Rome (dominion's other seat)
And Fortune stridinglike a vast Colossus
Could fix an equal foot of empire here.
ALEX. Had I my wishthese tyrants of all nature
Who lord it o'er mankindshould perish- perish
Each by the other's sword; butsince our will
Is lamely followed by our powerwe must
Depend on one; with him to rise or fall.
SERAP. How stands the queen affected?
ALEX. Ohshe dotes
She dotesSerapionon this vanquished man
And winds herself about his mighty ruins;
Whom would she yet forsakeyet yield him up
This hunted preyto his pursuer's hands
She might preserve us all: but 'tis in vain-
This changes my designsthis blasts my counsels
And makes me use all means to keep him here
Whom I could wish divided from her arms
Far as the earth's deep centre. Wellyou know
The state of things; no more of your ill omens
And black prognostics; labour to confirm
The people's hearts. -
Enter VENTIDIUStalking aside with a Gentleman of ANTONY'S. -
SERAP. These Romans will o'erhear us.
Butwho's that stranger? By his warlike port
His fierce demeanourand erected look
He's of no vulgar note.
ALEX. Oh 'tis Ventidius
Our emperor's great lieutenant in the East
Who first showed Rome that Parthia could be conquered.
When Antony returned from Syria last
He left this man to guard the Roman frontiers.
SERAP. You seem to know him well.
ALEX. Too well. I saw him at Cilicia first
When Cleopatra there met Antony:
A mortal foe he was to usand Egypt.
But- let me witness to the worth I hate-
A braver Roman never drew a sword;
Firm to his princebut as a friendnot slave.
He ne'er was of his pleasures; but presides
O'er all his cooler hoursand morning counsels:
In short the plainnessfiercenessrugged virtue
Of an old true-stampt Roman lives in him.
His coming bodes I know not what of ill
To our affairs. Withdraw to mark him better;
And I'll acquaint you why I sought you here
And what's our present work.
[They withdraw to a corner of the stage; and VENTIDIUS
with the othercomes forward to the front.
VENT. Not see himsay you?
I sayI mustand will.
GENT. He has commanded
On pain of deathnone should approach his presence.
VENT. I bring him news will raise his drooping spirits
Give him new life.
GENT. He sees not Cleopatra.
VENT. Would he had never seen her!
GENT. He eats notdrinks notsleeps nothas no use
Of anythingbut thought; or if he talks
'Tis to himselfand then 'tis perfect raving:
Then he defies the worldand bids it pass;
Sometimes he gnaws his lipand curses loud
The boy Octavius; then he draws his mouth
Into a scornful smileand cries"Take all
The world's not worth my care."
VENT. Justjust his nature.
Virtue's his path; but sometimes 'tis too narrow
For his vast soul; and then he starts out wide
And bounds into a vicethat bears him far
From his first courseand plunges him in ills:
Butwhen his danger makes him find his fault
Quick to observeand full of sharp remorse
He censures eagerly his own misdeeds
Judging himself with malice to himself
And not forgiving what as man he did
Because his other parts are more than man.-
He must not thus be lost.
[ALEXAS and the Priests come forward.
ALEX. You have your full instructionsnow advance;
Proclaim your orders loudly.
SERAP. RomansEgyptianshear the queen's command.
Thus Cleopatra bids: Let labour cease;
To pomp and triumphs give this happy day
That gave the world a lord: 'tis Antony's.
LiveAntony; and Cleopatra live!
Be this the general voice sent up to heaven
And every public place repeat this echo.
VENT. Fine pageantry! [Aside.
SERAP. Set out before your doors
The images of all your sleeping fathers
With laurels crowned; with laurels wreathe your posts
And strew with flowers the pavement; let the priests
Do present sacrifice; pour out the wine
And call the gods to join with you in gladness.
VENT. Curse on the tongue that bids this general joy!
Can they be friends of Antonywho revel
When Antony's in danger? Hidefor shame
You Romansyour great grandsires' images
For fear their souls should animate their marbles
To blush at their degenerate progeny.
ALEX. A lovewhich knows no boundsto Antony
Would mark the day with honourswhen all heaven
Laboured for himwhen each propitious star
Stood wakeful in his orbto watch that hour
And shed his better influence. Her own birthday
Our queen neglected like a vulgar fate
That passed obscurely by.
VENT. Would it had slept
Divided far from this; till some remote
And future age had called it outto ruin
Some other princenot him!
ALEX. Your emperor
Though grown unkindwould be more gentlethan
To upbraid my queen for loving him too well.
VENT. Does the mute sacrifice upbraid the priest?
He knows him not his executioner.
Ohshe has decked his ruin with her love
Led him in golden bands to gaudy slaughter
And made perdition pleasing: She has left him
The blank of what he was.
I tell theeeunuchshe has quite unmanned him.
Can any Roman seeand know him now
Thus altered from the lord of half mankind
Unbentunsinewedmade a woman's toy
Shrunk from the vast extent of all his honours
And crampt within a corner of the world?
Thou bravest soldierand thou best of friends!
Bounteous as nature; next to nature's God!
Couldst thou but make new worldsso wouldst thou give them.
As bounty were thy being! rough in battle
As the first Romans when they went to war;
Yet after victory more pitiful
Than all their praying virgins left at home!
ALEX. Would you could addto those more shining virtues
His truth to her who loves him.
VENT. Would I could not!
But wherefore waste I precious hours with thee!
Thou art her darling mischiefher chief engine
Antony's other fate. Gotell thy queen
Ventidius is arrivedto end her charms.
Let your Egyptian timbrels play alone
Nor mix effeminate sounds with Roman trumpets.
You dare not fight for Antony; go pray
And keep your cowards' holiday in temples.
[Exeunt ALEXASSERAPION. -
Re-enter the Gentleman of M. ANTONY. -
2ND GENT. The emperor approachesand commands
On pain of deaththat none presume to stay.
1ST GENT. I dare not disobey him. [Going out with the other.
VENT. WellI dare.
But I'll observe him first unseenand find
Which way his humour drives: The rest I'll venture.
Enter ANTONYwalking with a disturbed motion before he speaks. -
ANT. They tell me'tis my birthdayand I'll keep it
With double pomp of sadness.
'Tis what the day deserveswhich gave me breath.
Why was I raised the meteor of the world
Hung in the skiesand blazing as I travelled
Till all my fires were spent; and then cast downward
To be trod out by Caesar?
VENT. [Aside.] On my soul
'Tis mournfulwondrous mournful!
ANT. Count thy gains.
NowAntonywouldst thou be born for this?
Glutton of fortunethy devouring youth
Has starved thy wanting age.
VENT. How sorrow shakes him! [Aside.
Sonow the tempest tears him up by the roots
And on the ground extends the noble ruin.
[ANTONY having thrown himself down.
Lie therethou shadow of an emperor;
The place thou pressest on thy mother earth
Is all thy empire now: now it contains thee;
Some few days henceand then 'twill be too large
When thou'rt contracted in thy narrow urn
Shrunk to a few cold ashes; then Octavia
(For Cleopatra will not live to see it)
Octavia then will have thee all her own
And bear thee in her widowed hand to Caesar;
Caesar will weepthe crocodile will weep
To see his rival of the universe
Lie still and peaceful there. I'll think no more on't.
ANT. Give me some music: look that it be sad:
I'll soothe my melancholytill I swell
And burst myself with sighing.- [Soft music.
'Tis somewhat to my humour: stayI fancy
I'm now turned wilda commoner of nature;
Of all forsakenand forsaking all;
Live in a shady forest's sylvan scene
Stretched at my length beneath some blasted oak
I lean my head upon the mossy bark
And look just of a piece as I grew from it;
My uncombed locksmatted like mistletoe
Hang o'er my hoary face; a murmuring brook
Runs at my foot.
VENT. Methinks I fancy
Myself there too.
ANT. The herd come jumping by me
Andfearlessquench their thirstwhile I look on
And take me for their fellow-citizen.
More of this imagemore; it lulls my thoughts.
[Soft music again.
VENT. I must disturb him; I can hold no longer.
[Stands before him.
ANT. [starting up]. Art thou Ventidius?
VENT. Are you Antony?
I'm liker what I wasthan you to him
I left you last.
ANT. I'm angry.
VENT. So am I.
ANT. I would be private: leave me.
VENT. SirI love you
And therefore will not leave you.
ANT. Will not leave me!
Where have you learnt that answer? Who am I?
VENT. My emperor; the man I love next Heaven:
If I said moreI think 'twere scarce a sin:
You're all that's goodand god-like.
ANT. All that's wretched.
You will not leave me then?
VENT. 'Twas too presuming
To say I would not; but I dare not leave you:
And'tis unkind in you to chide me hence
So soonwhen I so far have come to see you.
ANT. Now thou hast seen meart thou satisfied?
Forif a friendthou hast beheld enough;
Andif a foetoo much.
VENT. Lookemperorthis is no common dew. [Weeping.
I have not wept this forty years; but now
My mother comes afresh into my eyes;
I cannot help her softness.
ANT. By heavenhe weeps! poor good old manhe weeps!
The big round drops course one another down
The furrows of his cheeks.- Stop themVentidius
Or I shall blush to death: they set my shame
That caused themfull before me.
VENT. I'll do my best.
ANT. Sure there's contagion in the tears of friends:
SeeI have caught it too. Believe me'tis not
For my own griefsbut thine.- Nayfather!
ANT. Emperor! Whythat's the style of victory;
The conqu'ring soldierred with unfelt wounds
Salutes his general so: but never more
Shall that sound reach my ears.
VENT. I warrant you.
ANT. ActiumActium! Oh!-
VENT. It sits too near you.
ANT. Herehere it lies; a lump of lead by day
Andin my shortdistractednightly slumbers
The hag that rides my dreams.-
VENT. Out with it; give it vent.
ANT. Urge not my shame.
I lost a battle-
VENT. So has Julius done.
ANT. Thou favour'st meand speak'st not half thou think'st;
For Julius fought it outand lost it fairly:
VENT. Naystop not.
Wellthou wilt have it- like a cowardfled
Fled while his soldiers fought; fled firstVentidius.
Thou long'st to curse meand I give thee leave.
I know thou cam'st prepared to rail.
VENT. I did.
ANT. I'll help thee.- I have been a manVentidius.
VENT. Yesand a brave one; but-
ANT. I know thy meaning.
But I have lost my reasonhave disgraced
The name of soldierwith inglorious ease.
In the full vintage of my flowing honours
Sat stilland saw it prest by other hands.
Fortune came smiling to my youthand wooed it
And purple greatness met my ripened years.
When first I came to empireI was borne
On tides of peoplecrowding to my triumphs;
The wish of nationsand the willing world
Received me as its pledge of future peace;
I was so greatso happyso beloved
Fate could not ruin me; till I took pains
And worked against my fortunechid her from me
And turned her loose; yet still she came again.
My careless daysand my luxurious nights
At length have wearied herand now she's gone
Gonegonedivorced for ever. Help mesoldier
To curse this madmanthis industrious fool
Who laboured to be wretched: Pr'ytheecurse me.
VENT. You are too sensible already
Of what you've donetoo conscious of your failings;
Andlike a scorpionwhipt by others first
To furysting yourself in mad revenge.
I would bring balmand pour it in your wounds
Cure your distempered mindand heal your fortunes.
ANT. I know thou would'st.
VENT. I will.
VENT. You laugh.
ANT. I doto see officious love
Give cordials to the dead.
VENT. You would be lostthen?
ANT. I am.
VENT. I say you are not. Try your fortune.
ANT. I haveto the utmost. Dost thou think me desperate
Without just cause? Nowhen I found all lost
Beyond repairI hid me from the world
And learnt to scorn it here; which now I do
So heartilyI think it is not worth
The cost of keeping.
VENT. Caesar thinks not so;
He'll thank you for the gift he could not take.
You would be killed like Tullywould you? do
Hold out your throat to Caesarand die tamely.
ANT. NoI can kill myself; and so resolve.
VENT. I can die with you toowhen time shall serve;
But fortune calls upon us now to live
To fightto conquer.
ANT. Sure thou dream'stVentidius.
VENT. No; 'tis you dream; you sleep away your hours
In desperate slothmiscalled philosophy.
Upupfor honour's sake; twelve legions wait you
And long to call you chief: By painful journeys
I led thempatient both of heat and hunger
Down from the Parthian marches to the Nile.
'Twill do you good to see their sunburnt faces
Their scarred cheeksand chopt hands: there's virtue in them.
They'll sell those mangled limbs at dearer rates
Than yon trim bands can buy.
ANT. Where left you them?
VENT. I said in Lower Syria.
ANT. Bring them hither;
There may be life in these.
VENT. They will not come.
ANT. Why didst thou mock my hopes with promised aids
To double my despair? They're mutinous.
VENT. Most firm and loyal.
ANT. Yet they will not march
To succour me. O trifler!
VENT. They petition
You would make haste to head them.
ANT. I'm besieged.
VENT. There's but one way shut up: How came I hither?
ANT. I will not stir.
VENT. They would perhaps desire
A better reason.
ANT. I have never used
My soldiers to demand a reason of
My actions. Why did they refuse to march?
VENT. They said they would not fight for Cleopatra.
ANT. What was't they said?
VENT. They said they would not fight for Cleopatra.
Why should they fight indeedto make her conquer
And make you more a slave? to gain your kingdoms
Whichfor a kissat your next midnight feast
You'll sell to her? Then she new-names her jewels
And calls this diamond such or such a tax;
Each pendant in her ear shall be a province.
ANT. VentidiusI allow your tongue free licence
On all my other faults; buton your life
No word of Cleopatra: she deserves
More worlds than I can lose.
VENT. Beholdyou Powers
To whom you have intrusted humankind!
See EuropeAfricAsiaput in balance
And all weighed down by one lightworthless woman!
I think the gods are Antoniesand give
Like prodigalsthis nether world away
To none but wasteful hands.
ANT. You grow presumptuous.
VENT. I take the privilege of plain love to speak.
ANT. Plain love! plain arroganceplain insolence!
Thy men are cowards; thouan envious traitor;
Whounder seeming honestyhast vented
The burden of thy ranko'erflowing gall.
O that thou wert my equal; great in arms
As the first Caesar wasthat I might kill thee
Without a stain to honour!
VENT. You may kill me;
You have done more already- called me traitor.
ANT. Art thou not one?
VENT. For showing you yourself
Which none else durst have done? but had I been
That namewhich I disdain to speak again
I needed not have sought your abject fortunes
Come to partake your fateto die with you.
What hindered me to have led my conquering eagles
To fill Octavius' bands? I could have been
A traitor thena glorioushappy traitor
And not have been so called.
ANT. Forgive mesoldier;
I've been too passionate.
VENT. You thought me false;
Thought my old age betrayed you: Kill mesir
Praykill me; yet you need notyour unkindness
Has left your sword no work.
ANT. I did not think so;
I said it in my rage: Pr'ytheeforgive me.
Why didst thou tempt my angerby discovery
Of what I would not hear?
VENT. No prince but you
Could merit that sincerity I used
Nor durst another man have ventured it;
But youere love misled your wandering eyes
Were sure the chief and best of human race
Framed in the very pride and boast of nature;
So perfectthat the godswho formed youwondered
At their own skilland cried- A lucky hit
Has mended our design. Their envy hindered
Else you had been immortaland a pattern
When Heaven would work for ostentation's sake
To copy out again.
ANT. But Cleopatra-
Go on; for I can bear it now.
VENT. No more.
ANT. Thou dar'st not trust my passionbut thou may'st;
Thou only lov'stthe rest have flattered me.
VENT. Heaven's blessing on your heart for that kind word!
May I believe you love me? Speak again.
ANT. Indeed I do. Speak thisand thisand this.
Thy praises were unjust; butI'll deserve them
And yet mend all. Do with me what thou wilt;
Lead me to victory! thou know'st the way.
VENT. Andwill you leave this-
ANT. Pr'ytheedo not curse her
And I will leave her; thoughHeaven knowsI love
Beyond lifeconquestempireallbut honour;
But I will leave her.
VENT. That's my royal master;
Andshall we fight?
ANT. I warrant theeold soldier.
Thou shalt behold me once again in iron;
And at the head of our old troopsthat beat
The Parthianscry aloud- Comefollow me!
VENT. Ohnow I hear my emperor! in that word
Octavius fell. Godslet me see that day
Andif I have ten years behindtake all:
I'll thank you for the exchange.
ANT. O Cleopatra!
ANT. I've done: In that last sigh she went.
Caesar shall know what 'tis to force a lover
From all he holds most dear.
VENT. Methinksyou breathe
Another soul: Your looks are more divine;
You speak a heroand you move a god.
ANT. Ohthou hast fired me; my soul's up in arms
And mans each part about me: Once again
That noble eagerness of fight has seized me;
That eagerness with which I darted upward
To Cassius' camp: In vain the steepy hill
Opposed my way; in vain a war of spears
Sung round my headand planted on my shield;
I won the trencheswhile my foremost men
Lagged on the plain below.
VENT. Ye godsye gods
For such another honour!
ANT. Come onmy soldier!
Our hearts and arms are still the same: I long
Once more to meet our foes; that thou and I
Like Time and Deathmarching before our troops
May taste fate to them; mow them out a passage
Andentering where the foremost squadrons yield
Begin the noble harvest of the field. [Exeunt.
SCENE I -
Enter CLEOPATRAIRASand ALEXAS. -
CLEO. What shall I door whither shall I turn?
Ventidius has o'ercomeand he will go.
ALEX. He goes to fight for you.
CLEO. Then he would see meere he went to fight:
Flatter me not: If once he goeshe's lost
And all my hopes destroyed.
ALEX. Does this weak passion
Become a mighty queen?
CLEO. I am no queen:
Is this to be a queento be besieged
By yon insulting Romanand to wait
Each hour the victor's chain? These ills are small:
For Antony is lostand I can mourn
For nothing else but him. Now comeOctavius
I have no more to lose! prepare thy bands;
I'm fit to be a captive: Antony
Has taught my mind the fortune of a slave.
IRAS. Call reason to assist you.
CLEO. I have none
And none would have: My love's a noble madness
Which shows the cause deserved it. Moderate sorrow
Fits vulgar loveand for a vulgar man:
But I have loved with such transcendent passion
I soaredat firstquite out of reason's view
And now am lost above it. NoI'm proud
'Tis thus: Would Antony could see me now
Think you be would not sighthough he must leave me?
Sure he would sigh; for he is noble-natured
And bears a tender heart: I know him well.
AhnoI know him not; I knew him once
But now 'tis past.
IRAS. Let it be past with you:
He once was mine; and oncethough now 'tis gone
Leaves a faint image of possession still.
ALEX. Think him inconstantcrueland ungrateful.
CLEO. I cannot: If I couldthose thoughts were vain.
Faithlessungratefulcruelthough he be
I still must love him. -
Enter CHARMION. -
Nowwhat newsmy Charmion?
Will he be kind? and will he not forsake me?
Am I to liveor die?- naydo I live?
Or am I dead? for when he gave his answer
Fate took the wordand then I lived or died.
CHAR. I found himmadam-
CLEO. A long speech preparing?
If thou bring'st comforthasteand give it me
For never was more need.
IRAS. I know he loves you.
CLEO. Had he been kindher eyes had told me so
Before her tongue could speak it: Now she studies
To soften what he said; but give me death
Just as he sent itCharmionundisguised
And in the words he spoke.
CHAR. I found himthen
Encompassed roundI thinkwith iron statues;
So muteso motionless his soldiers stood
While awfully he cast his eyes about
And every leader's hopes or fears surveyed:
Methought he looked resolvedand yet not pleased.
When he beheld me struggling in the crowd
He blushedand bade make way.
ALEX. There's comfort yet.
CHAR. Ventidius fixed his eyes upon my passage
Severelyas he meant to frown me back
And sullenly gave place: I told my message
Just as you gave itbroken and disordered;
I numbered in it all your sighs and tears
And while I moved your pitiful request
That you but only begged a last farewell
He fetched an inward groan; and every time
I named yousighedas if his heart were breaking
Butshunned my eyesand guiltily looked down;
He seemed not now that awful Antony
Who shook an armed assembly with his nod;
But making show as he would rub his eyes
Disguised and blotted out a falling tear.
CLEO. Did he then weep? And was I worth a tear?
If what thou hast to say be not as pleasing
Tell me no morebut let me die contented.
CHAR. He bid me say- He knew himself so well
He could deny you nothingif he saw you;
CLEO. Thou wouldst sayhe would not see me?
CHAR. And therefore begged you not to use a power
Which he could ill resist; yet he should ever
Respect youas he ought.
CLEO. Is that a word
For Antony to use to Cleopatra?
O that faint wordrespect! how I disdain it!
Disdain myselffor loving after it!
He should have kept that word for cold Octavia.
Respect is for a wife: Am I that thing
That dullinsipid lumpwithout desires
And without power to give them?
ALEX. You misjudge;
You see through loveand that deludes your sight;
Aswhat is straightseems crooked through the water:
But Iwho bear my reason undisturbed
Can see this Antonythis dreaded man
A fearful slavewho fain would run away
And shuns his master's eyes: If you pursue him
My life on'the still drags a chain along
That needs must clog his flight.
CLEO. Could I believe thee!-
ALEX. By every circumstance I know he loves.
Truehe's hard prestby interest and by honour;
Yet he but doubtsand parleysand casts out
Many a long look for succour.
CLEO. He sends word
He fears to see my face.
ALEX. And would you more?
He shows his weakness who declines the combat
And you must urge your fortune. Could he speak
More plainly? To my earsthe message sounds-
Come to my rescueCleopatracome;
Comefree me from Ventidius; from my tyrant:
See meand give me a pretence to leave him!-
I hear his trumpets. This way he must pass.
Please youretire a while; I'll work him first
That he may bend more easy.
CLEO. You shall rule me;
But allI fearin vain. [Exit with CHARMION and IRAS.
ALEX. I fear so too;
Though I concealed my thoughtsto make her bold;
But 'tis our utmost meansand fate befriend it! [Withdraws. -
Enter LICTORS with Fasces; one bearing the Eagle; then
enter ANTONY with VENTIDIUSfollowed by other Commanders. -
ANT. Octavius is the minion of blind chance
But holds from virtue nothing.
VENT. Has he courage?
ANT. But just enough to season him from coward.
Oh'tis the coldest youth upon a charge
The most deliberate fighter! if he ventures
(As in Illyria oncethey sayhe did
To storm a town)'tis when he cannot choose;
When all the world have fixt their eyes upon him;
And then he lives on that for seven years after;
Butat a close revenge he never fails.
VENT. I heard you challenged him.
ANT. I didVentidius.
What think'st thou was his answer? 'Twasso tame!-
He saidhe had more ways than one to die;
I had not.
ANT. He has more ways than one;
But he would choose them all before that one.
VENT. He first would choose an agueor a fever.
ANT. No; it must be an aguenot a fever;
He has not warmth enough to die by that.
VENT. Or old age and a bed.
ANT. Aythere's his choice
He would livelike a lampto the last wink
And crawl upon the utmost verge of life.
O Hercules! Why should a man like this
Who dares not trust his fate for one great action
Be all the care of Heaven? Why should he lord it
O'er fourscore thousand menof whom each one
Is braver than himself?
VENT. You conquered for him:
Philippi knows it; there you shared with him
That empirewhich your sword made all your own.
ANT. Fool that I wasupon my eagle's wings
I bore this wrentill I was tired with soaring
And now he mounts above me.
Good heavensis this- is this the man who braves me?
Who bids my age make way? Drives me before him
To the world's ridgeand sweeps me off like rubbish?
VENT. Sirwe lose time; the troops are mounted all.
ANT. Then give the word to march:
I long to leave this prison of a town
To join thy legions; andin open field
Once more to show my face. Leadmy deliverer. -
Enter ALEXAS. -
ALEX. Great emperor
In mighty arms renowned above mankind
Butin soft pity to the oppresta god;
This message sends the mournful Cleopatra
To her departing lord.
VENT. Smooth sycophant!
ALEX. A thousand wishesand ten thousand prayers
Millions of blessings wait you to the wars;
Millions of sighs and tears she sends you too
And would have sent
As many dear embraces to your arms
As many parting kisses to your lips;
But thoseshe fearshave wearied you already.
VENT. [Aside.] False crocodile!
ALEX. And yet she begs not nowyou would not leave her;
That were a wish too mighty for her hopes
For her low fortuneand your ebbing love;
That were a wish for her more prosperous days
Her blooming beautyand your growing kindness.
ANT. [Aside.] WellI must man it out:- What would the queen?
ALEX. Firstto these noble warriorswho attend
Your daring courage in the chase of fame-
Too daringand too dangerous for her quiet-
She humbly recommends all she holds dear
All her own cares and fears- the care of you.
VENT. Yeswitness Actium.
ANT. Let him speakVentidius.
ALEX. Youwhen his matchless valour bears him forward
With ardour too heroicon his foes
Fall downas she would dobefore his feet;
Lie in his wayand stop the paths of death:
Tell himthis god is not invulnerable;
That absent Cleopatra bleeds in him;
Andthat yon may remember her petition
She begs you wear these triflesas a pawn
Whichat your wished returnshe will redeem
[Gives jewels to the Commanders.
With all the wealth of Egypt:
This to the great Ventidius she presents
Whom she can never count her enemy
Because he loves her lord.
VENT. Tell herI'll none on't;
I'm not ashamed of honest poverty;
Not all the diamonds of the east can bribe
Ventidius from his faith. I hope to see
These and the rest of all her sparkling store
Where they shall more deservingly be placed.
ANT. And who must wear them then?
VENT. The wronged Octavia.
ANT. You might have spared that word.
VENT. And he that bribe.
ANT. But have I no remembrance?
ALEX. Yesa dear one;
Your slave the queen-
ANT. My mistress.
ALEX. Then your mistress;
Your mistress wouldshe sayshave sent her soul
But that you had long since; she humbly begs
This ruby braceletset with bleeding hearts
The emblems of her ownmay bind your arm.
[Presenting a bracelet.
VENT. Nowmy best lord- in honour's nameI ask you
For manhood's sakeand for your own dear safety-
Touch not these poisoned gifts
Infected by the sender; touch them not;
Myriads of bluest plagues lie underneath them
And more than aconite has dipt the silk.
ANT. Naynow you grow too cynicalVentidius:
A lady's favours may be worn with honour.
Whatto refuse her bracelet! On my soul
When I lie pensive in my tent alone
'Twill pass the wakeful hours of winter nights
To tell these pretty beads upon my arm
To count for every one a soft embrace
A melting kiss at such and such a time:
And now and then the fury of her love
When- And what harm's in this?
ALEX. Nonenonemy lord
But what's to herthat now 'tis past for ever.
ANT. [Going to tie it.] We soldiers are so awkward- help me tie it.
ALEX. In faithmy lordwe courtiers too are awkward
In these affairs: so are all men indeed:
Even Iwho am not one. But shall I speak?
ALEX. Thenmy lordfair hands alone
Are fit to tie it; shewho sent it can.
VENT. Helldeath! this eunuch pander ruins you.
You will not see her?
[ALEXAS whispers an Attendantwho goes out.
ANT. But to take my leave.
VENT. Then I have washed an AEthiop. You're undone;
Y'are in the toils; y'are taken; y'are destroyed:
Her eyes do Caesar's work.
ANT. You fear too soon.
I'm constant to myself: I know my strength;
And yet she shall not think me barbarous neither
Born in the depths of Afric: I am a Roman
Bred in the rules of soft humanity.
A guestand kindly usedshould bid farewell.
VENT. You do not know
How weak you are to herhow much an infant:
You are not proof against a smileor glance;
A sigh will quite disarm you.
ANT. Seeshe comes!
Now you shall find your error.- GodsI thank you:
I formed the danger greater than it was
And now 'tis near'tis lessened.
VENT. Mark the end yet. -
Enter CLEOPATRACHARMIONand IRAS. -
ANT. Wellmadamwe are met.
CLEO. Is this a meeting?
Thenwe must part?
ANT. We must.
CLEO. Who says we must?
ANT. Our own hard fates.
CLEO. We make those fates ourselves.
ANT. Yeswe have made them; we have loved each other
Into our mutual ruin.
CLEO. The gods have seen my joys with envious eyes;
I have no friends in heaven; and all the world
As 'twere the business of mankind to part us
Is armed against my love: even you yourself
Join with the rest; youyou are armed against me.
ANT. I will be justified in all I do
To late posterityand therefore hear me.
If I mix a lie
With any truthreproach me freely with it;
Elsefavour me with silence.
CLEO. You command me
And I am dumb.
VENT. I like this well; he shows authority.
ANT. That I derive my ruin
From you alone-
CLEO. O heavens! I ruin you!
ANT. You promised me your silenceand you break it
Ere I have scarce begun.
CLEO. WellI obey you.
ANT. When I beheld you firstit was in Egypt.
Ere Caesar saw your eyesyou gave me love
And were too young to know it; that I settled
Your father in his thronewas for your sake;
I left the acknowledgment for time to ripen.
Caesar stept inandwith a greedy hand
Plucked the green fruitere the first blush of red
Yet cleaving to the bough. He was my lord
And wasbesidetoo great for me to rival;
ButI deserved you firstthough he enjoyed you.
WhenafterI beheld you in Cilicia
An enemy to RomeI pardoned you.
CLEO. I cleared myself-
ANT. Again you break your promise.
I loved you stilland took your weak excuses
Took you into my bosomstained by Caesar
And not half mine: I went to Egypt with you
And hid me from the business of the world
Shut out inquiring nations from my sight
To give whole years to you.
VENT. Yesto your shame be't spoken. [Aside.
ANT. How I loved.
Witnessye days and nightsand all ye hours
That danced away with down upon your feet
As all your business were to count my passion!
One day passed byand nothing saw but love;
Another cameand still 'twas only love:
The suns were wearied out with looking on
And I untired with loving.
I saw you every dayand all the day;
And every day was still but as the first
So eager was I still to see you more.
VENT. 'Tis all too true.
ANT. Fulviamy wifegrew jealous
(As she indeed had reason)raised a war
In Italyto call me back.
VENT. But yet
You went not.
ANT. While within your arms I lay
The world fell mouldering from my hands each hour
And left me scarce a grasp- I thank your love for't.
VENT. Well pushed: that last was home.
CLEO. Yet may I speak?
ANT. If I have urged a falsehoodyes; elsenot.
Your silence saysI have not. Fulvia died
(Pardonyou godswith my unkindness died);
To set the world at peaceI took Octavia
This Caesar's sister; in her pride of youth
And flower of beautydid I wed that lady
Whom blushing I must praisebecause I left her.
You called; my love obeyed the fatal summons:
This raised the Roman arms; the cause was yours.
I would have fought by landwhere I was stronger;
You hindered it: yetwhen I fought at sea
Forsook me fighting; and (O stain to honour!
O lasting shame!) I knew not that I fled;
But fled to follow you.
VENT. What haste she made to hoist her purple sails!
Andto appear magnificent in flight
Drew half our strength away.
ANT. All this you caused.
Andwould you multiply more ruins on me?
This honest manmy bestmy only friend
Has gathered up the shipwreck of my fortunes;
Twelve legions I have leftmy last recruits.
And you have watched the newsand bring your eyes
To seize them too. If you have aught to answer
Now speakyou have free leave.
ALEX. [Aside.] She stands confounded:
Despair is in her eyes.
VENT. Now lay a sigh in the way to stop his passage:
Prepare a tearand bid it for his legions;
'Tis like they shall be sold.
CLEO. How shall I plead my causewhen youmy judge
Already have condemned me? Shall I bring
The love you bore me for my advocate?
That now is turned against methat destroys me;
For loveonce pastisat the bestforgotten;
But oftener sours to hate: 'twill please my lord
To ruin meand therefore I'll be guilty.
Butcould I once have thought it would have pleased you
That you would prywith narrow searching eyes
Into my faultssevere to my destruction
And watching all advantages with care
That serve to make me wretched? Speakmy lord
For I end here. Though I deserved this usage
Was it like you to give it?
ANT. Ohyou wrong me
To think I sought this partingor desired
To accuse you more than what will clear myself
And justify this breach.
CLEO. Thus low I thank you;
Andsince my innocence will not offend
I shall not blush to own it.
VENT. After this
I think she'll blush at nothing.
CLEO. You seemed grieved
(And therein you are kind)that Caesar first
Enjoyed my lovethough you deserved it better:
I grieve for thatmy lordmuch more than you;
Forhad I first been yoursit would have saved
My second choice: I never had been his
And ne'er had been but yours. But Caesar first
You saypossessed my love. Not somy lord:
He first possessed my person; youmy love:
Caesar loved me; but I loved Antony.
If I endured him after'twas because
I judged it due to the first name of men;
Andhalf constrainedI gaveas to a tyrant
What he would take by force.
VENT. O Syren! Syren!
Yet grant that all the love she boasts were true
Has she not ruined you? I still urge that
The fatal consequence.
CLEO. The consequence indeed
For I dare challenge himmy greatest foe
To say it was designed: 'tis trueI loved you
And kept you far from an uneasy wife-
Such Fulvia was.
Yesbut he'll sayyou left Octavia for me;-
Andcan you blame me to receive that love
Which quitted such desertfor worthless me?
How often have I wished some other Caesar
Great as the firstand as the second young
Would court my loveto be refused for you!
VENT. Wordswords; but Actiumsir; remember Actium.
CLEO. Even thereI dare his malice. TrueI counselled
To fight at sea; but I betrayed you not.
I fledbut not to the enemy. 'Twas fear;
Would I had been a mannot to have feared!
For none would then have envied me your friendship
Who envy me your love.
ANT. We are both unhappy:
If nothing elseyet our ill fortune parts us.
Speak: would you have me perish by my stay?
CLEO. Ifas a friendyou ask my judgmentgo;
Ifas a loverstay. If you must perish-
'Tis a hard word- but stay.
VENT. See now the effects of her so boasted love!
She strives to drag you down to ruin with her;
Butcould she 'scape without youohhow soon
Would she let go her holdand haste to shore
And never look behind!
CLEO. Then judge my love by this. [Giving ANTONY a writing.
Could I have borne
A life or deatha happiness or woe
From yours dividedthis had given me means.
ANT. By Herculesthe writing of Octavius!
I know it well: 'tis that proscribing hand
Young as it wasthat led the way to mine
And left me but the second place in murder.-
SeeseeVentidius! here he offers Egypt
And joins all Syria to itas a present;
Soin requitalshe forsake my fortunes
And join her arms with his.
CLEO. And yet you leave me!
You leave meAntony; and yet I love you
Indeed I do: I have refused a kingdom;
That is a trifle;
For I could part with lifewith anything
But only you. Ohlet me die but with you!
Is that a hard request?
ANT. Next living with you
'Tis all that Heaven can give.
ALEX. He melts; we conquer. [Aside.
CLEO. No; you shall go: your interest calls you hence;
Yes; your dear interest pulls too strongfor these
Weak arms to hold you here. [Takes his hand.
Go; leave mesoldier
(For you're no more a lover): leave me dying:
Push meall pale and pantingfrom your bosom
Andwhen your march beginslet one run after
Breathless almost for joyand cry- She's dead.
The soldiers shout; you thenperhapsmay sigh
And muster all your Roman gravity:
Ventidius chides; and straight your brow clears up
As I had never been.
ANT. Gods'tis too much; too much for man to bear.
CLEO. What is't for me then
A weakforsaken womanand a lover?-
Here let me breathe my last: envy me not
This minute in your arms: I'll die apace
As fast as e'er I canand end your trouble.
ANT. Die! rather let me perish; loosened nature
Leap from its hingessink the props of heaven
And fall the skiesto crush the nether world!
My eyesmy soulmy all! [Embraces her.
VENT. And what's this toy
In balance with your fortunehonourfame?
ANT. What is'tVentidius?- it outweighs them all;
Whywe have more than conquered Caesar now:
My queen's not only innocentbut loves me.
Thisthis is shewho drags me down to ruin!
"Butcould she 'scape without mewith what haste
Would she let slip her holdand make to shore
And never look behind!"
Down on thy kneesblasphemer as thou art
And ask forgiveness of wronged innocence.
VENT. I'll rather diethan take it. Will you go?
ANT. Go! whither? Go from all that's excellent?
Faithhonourvirtueall good things forbid
That I should go from herwho sets my love
Above the price of kingdoms! Giveyou gods
Give to your boyyour Caesar
This rattle of a globe to play withal
This gewgaw worldand put him cheaply off:
I'll not be pleased with less than Cleopatra.
CLEO. She's wholly yours. My heart's so full of joy
That I shall do some wild extravagance
Of lovein public; and the foolish world
Which knows not tendernesswill think me mad.
VENT. O women! women! women! all the gods
Have not such power of doing good to man
As you of doing harm. [Exit.
ANT. Our men are armed:-
Unbar the gate that looks to Caesar's camp:
I would revenge the treachery he meant me;
And long security makes conquest easy.
I'm eager to return before I go;
Forall the pleasures I have known beat thick
On my remembrance.- How I long for night!
That both the sweets of mutual love may try
And triumph once o'er Caesar ere we die. [Exeunt.
SCENE I -
At one door enter CLEOPATRACHARMIONIRASand ALEXASa Train
of Egyptians: at the other ANTONY and Romans. The entrance on
both sides is prepared by music; the trumpets first sounding on
ANTONY'S part: then answered by timbrelsetc.on CLEOPATRA'S.
CHARMION and IRAS hold a laurel wreath betwixt them. A Dance of
Egyptians. After the ceremonyCLEOPATRA crowns ANTONY. -
ANT. I thought how those white arms would fold me in
And strain me closeand melt me into love;
So pleased with that sweet imageI sprung forwards
And added all my strength to every blow.
CLEO. Come to mecomemy soldierto my arms!
You've been too long away from my embraces;
Butwhen I have you fastand all my own
With broken murmursand with amorous sighs
I'll sayyou were unkindand punish you
And mark you red with many an eager kiss.
ANT. My brighter Venus!
CLEO. O my greater Mars!
ANT. Thou join'st us wellmy love!
Suppose me come from the Phlegraean plains
Where gasping giants laycleft by my sword
And mountain-tops paired off each other blow
To bury those I slew. Receive megoddess!
Let Caesar spread his subtle nets; like Vulcan
In thy embraces I would be beheld
By heaven and earth at once;
And make their envy what they meant their sport.
Let thosewho took usblush; I would love on
With awful stateregardless of their frowns
As their superior gods.
There's no satiety of love in thee:
Enjoyedthou still art new; perpetual spring
Is in thy arms; the ripened fruit but falls
And blossoms rise to fill its empty place;
And I grow rich by giving. -
Enter VENTIDIUSand stands apart. -
ALEX. Ohnow the danger's pastyour general comes!
He joins not in your joysnor minds your triumphs;
Butwith contracted browslooks frowning on
As envying your success.
ANT. Nowon my soulhe loves me; truly loves me:
He never flattered me in any vice
But awes me with his virtue: even this minute
Methinkshe has a right of chiding me.
Lead to the temple: I'll avoid his presence;
It checks too strong upon me. [Exeunt the rest.
[As ANTONY is goingVENTIDIUS pulls him by the robe.
ANT. 'Tis the old argument; I pr'ytheespare me.
VENT. But this one hearingemperor.
ANT. Let go
My robe; orby my father Hercules-
VENT. By Hercules' fatherthat's yet greater
I bring you somewhat you would wish to know.
ANT. Thou see'st we are observed; attend me here
And I'll return. [Exit.
VENT. I am waning in his favouryet I love him;
I love this manwho runs to meet his ruin;
And sure the godslike meare fond of him:
His virtues lie so mingled with his crimes
As would confound their choice to punish one
And not reward the other. -
Enter ANTONY. -
ANT. We can conquer
You seewithout your aid.
We have dislodged their troops;
They look on us at distanceandlike curs
'Scaped from the lion's pawsthey bay far off.
And lick their woundsand faintly threaten war.
Five thousand Romanswith their faces upward
Lie breathless on the plain.
VENT. 'Tis well; and he
Who lost themcould have spared ten thousand more.
Yet ifby this advantageyou could gain
An easier peacewhile Caesar doubts the chance
ANT. Ohthink not on'tVentidius!
The boy pursues my ruinhe'll no peace;
His malice is considerate in advantage.
Ohhe's the coolest murderer! so staunch
He killsand keeps his temper.
VENT. Have you no friend
In all his armywho has power to move him?
Maecenasor Agrippamight do much.
ANT. They're both too deep in Caesar's interests.
We'll work it out by dint of swordor perish.
VENT. Fain I would find some other.
ANT. Thank thy love.
Some four or five such victories as this
Will save thy further pains.
VENT. Expect no more; Caesar is on his guard:
I knowsiryou have conquered against odds;
But still you draw supplies from one poor town
And of Egyptians: he has all the world
Andat his becknations come pouring in
To fill the gaps you make. Praythink again.
ANT. Why dost thou drive me from myselfto search
For foreign aids?- to hunt my memory
And range all o'er a waste and barren place
To find a friend? The wretched have no friends
Yet I had onethe bravest youth of Rome
Whom Caesar loves beyond the love of women:
He could resolve his mindas fire does wax
From that hard rugged image melt him down
And mould him in what softer form he pleased.
VENT. Him would I see; that manof all the world;
Just such a one we want.
ANT. He loved me too;
I was his soul; he lived not but in me:
We were so closed within each other's breasts
The rivets were not foundthat joined us first.
That does not reach us yet: we were so mixt
As meeting streamsboth to ourselves were lost;
We were one mass; we could not give or take
But from the same; for he was II he.
VENT. He moves as I would wish him. [Aside.
ANT. After this
I need not tell his name;- 'twas Dolabella.
VENT. He's now in Caesar's camp.
ANT. No matter where
Since he's no longer mine. He took unkindly
That I forbade him Cleopatra's sight
Because I feared he loved her: he confessed
He had a warmthwhichfor my sakehe stifled;
For 'twere impossible that twoso one
Should not have loved the same. When he departed
He took no leave; and that confirmed my thoughts.
VENT. It arguesthat he loved you more than her
Else he had stayed; but he perceived you jealous
And would not grieve his friend: I know he loves you.
ANT. I should have seen himthenere now.
He has thus long been labouring for your peace.
ANT. Would he were here!
VENT. Would you believe he loved you?
I read your answer in your eyesyou would.
Not to conceal it longerhe has sent
A messenger from Caesar's campwith letters
ANT. Let him appear.
VENT. I'll bring him instantly.
[Exit VENTIDIUSand re-enters immediately with DOLABELLA.
ANT. 'Tis he himself! himselfby holy friendship!
[Runs to embrace him.
Art thou returned at lastmy better half?
Comegive me all myself!
Let me not live
If the young bridegroomlonging for his night
Was ever half so fond.
DOLA. I must be silentfor my soul is busy
About a nobler work: she's new come home
Like a long-absent manand wanders o'er
Each rooma stranger to her ownto look
If all be safe.
ANT. Thou hast what's left of me;
For I am now so sunk from what I was
Thou find'st me at my lowest water-mark.
The rivers that ran inand raised my fortunes
Are all dried upor take another course:
What I have left is from my native spring;
I've still a heart that swellsin scorn of fate
And lifts me to my banks.
DOLA. Still you are lord of all the world to me.
ANT. Whythen I yet am so; for thou art all.
If I had any joy when thou wert absent
I grudged it to myself; methought I robbed
Thee of thy part. ButO my Dolabella!
Thou hast beheld me other than I am.
Hast thou not seen my morning chambers filled
With sceptred slaveswho waited to salute me?
With eastern monarchswho forgot the sun
To worship my uprising?- menial kings
Ran coursing up and down my palace-yard
Stood silent in my presencewatched my eyes
Andat my least commandall started out
Like racers to the goal.
DOLA. Slaves to your fortune.
ANT. Fortune is Caesar's now; and what am I?
VENT. What you have made yourself; I will not flatter.
ANT. Is this friendly done?
DOLA. Yes; when his end is soI must join with him;
Indeed I mustand yet you must not chide;
Why am I else your friend?
ANT. Take heedyoung man
How thou upbraid'st my love: The queen has eyes
And thou too hast a soul. Canst thou remember
Whenswelled with hatredthou beheld'st her first
As accessary to thy brother's death?
DOLA. Spare my remembrance; 'twas a guilty day
And still the blush hangs here.
ANT. To clear herself
For sending him no aidshe came from Egypt.
Her galley down the silver Cydnus rowed
The tackling silkthe streamers waved with gold;
The gentle winds were lodged in purple sails:
Her nymphslike Nereidsround her couch were placed;
Where sheanother sea-born Venuslay.
DOLA. No more; I would not hear it.
ANT. Ohyou must!
She layand leant her cheek upon her hand
And cast a look so languishingly sweet
As ifsecure of all beholders' hearts
Neglectingshe could take them: boyslike Cupids
Stood fanningwith their painted wingsthe winds
That played about her face. But if she smiled
A darting glory seemed to blaze abroad
That men's desiring eyes were never wearied
But hung upon the object: To soft flutes
The silver oars kept time; and while they played
The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight;
And both to thought. 'Twas heavenor somewhat more:
For she so charmed all heartsthat gazing crowds
Stood panting on the shoreand wanted breath
To give their welcome voice.
ThenDolabellawhere was then thy soul?
Was not thy fury quite disarmed with wonder?
Didst thou not shrink behind me from those eyes
And whisper in my ear- Ohtell her not
That I accused her with my brother's death?
DOLA. And should my weakness be a plea for yours?
Mine was an age when love might be excused
When kindly warmthand when my springing youth
Made it a debt to nature. Yours-
VENT. Speak boldly.
Yourshe would sayin your declining age
When no more heat was left but what you forced
When all the sap was needful for the trunk
When it went downthen you constrained the course
And robbed from natureto supply desire;
In you (I would not use so harsh a word)
'Tis but plain dotage.
DOLA. 'Twas urged too home.-
But yet the loss was privatethat I made;
'Twas but myself I lost: I lost no legions;
I had no world to loseno people's love.
ANT. This from a friend?
DOLA. YesAntonya true one;
A friend so tenderthat each word I speak
Stabs my own heartbefore it reach your ear.
Ohjudge me not less kindbecause I chide!
To Caesar I excuse you.
ANT. O ye gods!
Have I then lived to he excused to Caesar?
DOLA. As to your equal.
ANT. Wellhe's but my equal:
While I wear this he never shall be more.
DOLA. I bring conditions from him.
ANT. Are they noble?
Methinks thou shouldst not bring them else; yet he
Is full of deep dissembling; knows no honour
Divided from his interest. Fate mistook him;
For nature meant him for an usurer:
He's fit indeed to. buynot conquer kingdoms.
VENT. Thengranting this
What power was theirswho wrought so hard a temper
To honourable terms?
ANT. It was my Dolabellaor some god.
DOLA. Nor Inor yet Maecenasnor Agrippa:
They were your enemies; and Ia friend
Too weak alone; yet 'twas a Roman's deed.
ANT. 'Twas like a Roman done: show me that man
Who has preserved my lifemy lovemy honour;
Let me but see his face.
VENT. That task is mine
AndHeaventhou know'st how pleasing. [Exit VENTIDIUS.
DOLA. You'll remember
To whom you stand obliged?
ANT. When I forget it
Be thou unkindand that's my greatest curse.
My queen shall thank him too.
DOLA. I fear she will not.
ANT. But she shall do it: The queenmy Dolabella!
Hast thou not still some grudgings of thy fever?
DOLA. I would not see her lost.
ANT. When I forsake her
Leave me my better stars! for she has truth
Beyond her beauty. Caesar tempted her
At no less price than kingdomsto betray me;
But she resisted all: and yet thou chidest me
For loving her too well. Could I do so?
DOLA. Yes; there's my reason. -
Re-enter VENTIDIUSWith OCTAVIAleading ANTONY'S
two little Daughters. -
ANT. Where?- Octavia there! [Starting back.
VENT. Whatis she poison to you?- a disease?
Look on herview her welland those she brings:
Are they all strangers to your eyes? has nature
No secret callno whisper they are yours?
DOLA. For shamemy lordif not for lovereceive them
With kinder eyes. If you confess a man
Meet themembrace thembid them welcome to you.
Your arms should openeven without your knowledge
To clasp them in; your feet should turn to wings
To bear you to them; and your eyes dart out
And aim a kissere you could reach the lips.
ANT. I stood amazedto think how they came hither.
VENT. I sent for them; I brought them in unknown
To Cleopatra's guards.
DOLA. Yetare you cold?
OCTAV. Thus long I have attended for my welcome;
Whichas a strangersure I might expect.
Who am I?
ANT. Caesar's sister.
OCTAV. That's unkind.
Had I been nothing more than Caesar's sister
KnowI had still remained in Caesar's camp:
But your Octaviayour much injured wife
Though banished from your beddriven from your house
In spite of Caesar's sisterstill is yours.
'Tis trueI have a heart disdains your coldness
And prompts me not to seek what you should offer;
But a wife's virtue still surmounts that pride.
I come to claim you as my own; to show
My duty first; to asknay begyour kindness:
Your handmy lord; 'tis mineand I will have it.
[Taking his hand.
VENT. Dotake it; thou deserv'st it.
DOLA. On my soul
And so she does: she's neither too submissive
Nor yet too haughty; but so just a mean
Showsas it oughta wife and Roman too.
ANT. I fearOctaviayou have begged my life.
OCTAV. Begged itmy lord?
ANT. Yesbegged itmy ambassadress!
Poorly and basely begged it of your brother.
OCTAV. Poorly and basely I could never beg:
Nor could my brother grant.
ANT. Shall Iwhoto my kneeling slavecould say
Rise upand be a king; shall I fall down
And cry- Forgive meCaesar! Shall I set
A manmy equalin the place of Jove
As he could give me being? No; that word
Forgivewould choke me up
And die upon my tongue.
DOLA. You shall not need it.
ANT. I will not need it. Comeyou've all betrayed me-
My friend too!- to receive some vile conditions.
My wife has bought mewith her prayers and tears;
And now I must become her branded slave.
In every peevish moodshe will upbraid
The life she gave: if I but look awry
She cries- I'll tell my brother.
OCTAV. My hard fortune
Subjects me still to your unkind mistakes.
But the conditions I have brought are such
You need not blush to take: I love your honour
Because 'tis mine; it never shall be said
Octavia's husband was her brother's slave.
Siryou are free; freeeven from her you loathe;
Forthough my brother bargains for your love
Makes me the price and cement of your peace
I have a soul like yours; I cannot take
Your love as almsnor beg what I deserve.
I'll tell my brother we are reconciled;
He shall draw back his troopsand you shall march
To rule the East: I may be dropt at Athens;
No matter where. I never will complain
But only keep the barren name of wife
And rid you of the trouble.
VENT. Was ever such a strife of sullen honour! |
Both scorn to be obliged. |
DOLA. Ohshe has touched him in the tenderest part; |
See how he reddens with despite and shame| - Apart.
To be outdone in generosity! |
VENT. See how he winks! how he dries up a tear|
That fain would fall! |
ANT. OctaviaI have heard youand must praise
The greatness of your soul;
But cannot yield to what you have proposed:
For I can ne'er be conquered but by love;
And you do all for duty. You would free me
And would be dropt at Athens; wast not so?
OCTAV. It wasmy lord.
ANT. Then I must be obliged
To one who loves me not; whoto herself
May call me thankless and ungrateful man:-
I'll not endure it; no.
VENT. I am glad it pinches there. [Aside.
OCTAV. Would you triumph o'er poor Octavia's virtue?
That pride was all I had to bear me up;
That you might think you owed me for your life
And owed it to my dutynot my love.
I have been injuredand my haughty soul
Could brook but ill the man who slights my bed.
ANT. Therefore you love me not.
OCTAV. Thereforemy lord
I should not love you.
ANT. Therefore you would leave me?
OCTAV. And therefore I should leave you- if I could.
DOLA. Her soul's too greatafter such injuries
To say she loves; and yet she lets you see it.
Her modesty and silence plead her cause.
ANT. O Dolabellawhich way shall I turn?
I find a secret yielding in my soul;
But Cleopatrawho would die with me
Must she be left? Pity pleads for Octavia;
But does it not plead more for Cleopatra?
VENT. Justice and pity both plead for Octavia;
One would be ruined with you; but she first
Had ruined you: The otheryou have ruined
And yet she would preserve you.
In everything their merits are unequal.
ANT. O my distracted soul!
OCTAV. Sweet Heaven compose it!-
Comecomemy lordif I can pardon you
Methinks you should accept it. Look on these;
Are they not yours? or stand they thus neglected
As they are mine? Go to himchildrengo;
Kneel to himtake him by the handspeak to him;
For you may speakand he may own you too
Without a blush; and so he cannot all
His children: goI sayand pull him to me
And pull him to yourselvesfrom that bad woman.
YouAgrippinahang upon his arms;
And youAntoniaclasp about his waist:
If he will shake you offif he will dash you
Against the pavementyou must bear itchildren;
For you are mineand I was born to suffer.
[Here the Children go to himetc.
VENT. Was ever sight so moving?- Emperor!
BOTH CHILD. Father!
ANT. I am vanquished: take me
Octavia; take mechildren; share me all. [Embracing them.
I've been a thriftless debtor to your loves
And run out muchin riotfrom your stock;
But all shall be amended.
OCTAV. O blest hour!
DOLA. O happy change!
VENT. My joy stops at my tongue;
But it has found two channels here for one
And bubbles out above.
ANT. [to OCTAVIA]. This is thy triumph; lead me where thou wilt;
Even to thy brother's camp.
OCTAV. All there are yours. -
Enter ALEXAS hastily. -
ALEX. The queenmy mistresssirand yours-
ANT. 'Tis past.-
Octaviayou shall stay this night: To-morrow
Caesar and we are one.
[Exit leading OCTAVIA; DOLABELLA and the Children follow.
VENT. There's news for you; runmy officious eunuch
Be sure to be the first; haste forward:
Hastemy dear eunuchhaste. [Exit.
ALEX. This downright fighting foolthis thick-skulled hero
This bluntunthinking instrument of death
With plain dull virtue has outgone my wit.
Pleasure forsook my earliest infancy;
The luxury of others robbed my cradle
And ravished thence the promise of a man.
Cast out from naturedisinherited
Of what her meanest children claim by kind
Yet greatness kept me from contempt: that's gone.
Had Cleopatra followed my advice
Then he had been betrayed who now forsakes.
She dies for love; but she has known its joys:
Godsis this justthat Iwho know no joys
Must diebecause she loves? -
Enter CLEOPATRACHARMIONIRASand Train. -
O madamI have seen what blasts my eyes!
CLEO. Peace with that raven's note.
I know it too; and now am in
The pangs of death.
ALEX. You are no more a queen;
Egypt is lost.
CLEO. What tell'st thou me of Egypt?
My lifemy soul is lost! Octavia has him!-
O fatal name to Cleopatra's love!
My kissesmy embraces now are hers;
While I- But thou hast seen my rival; speak
Does she deserve this blessing? Is she fair?
Bright as a goddess? and is all perfection
Confined to her? It is. Poor I was made
Of that coarse matterwhichwhen she was finished
The gods threw by for rubbish.
ALEX. She is indeed a very miracle.
CLEO. Death to my hopesa miracle!
ALEX. A miracle; [Bowing.
I mean of goodness; for in beautymadam
You make all wonders cease.
CLEO. I was too rash:
Take this in part of recompense. Butoh! [Giving a ring.
I fear thou flatterest me.
CHAR. She comes! she's here!
IRAS. FlymadamCaesar's sister!
CLEO. Were she the sister of the thunderer Jove
And bore her brother's lightning in her eyes
Thus would I face my rival.
[Meets OCTAVIA With VENTIDIUS. OCTAVIA bears up to
her. Their Trains come up on either side.
OCTAV. I need not ask if you are Cleopatra;
Your haughty carriage-
CLEO. Shows I am a queen:
Nor need I ask youwho you are.
OCTAV. A Roman:
A namethat makes and can unmake a queen.
CLEO. Your lordthe man who serves meis a Roman.
OCTAV. He was a Romantill he lost that name
To be a slave in Egypt; but I come
To free him thence.
CLEO. Peacepeacemy lover's Juno.
When he grew weary of that household clog
He chose my easier bonds.
OCTAV. I wonder not
Your bonds are easy: you have long been practised
In that lascivious art: He's not the first
For whom you spread your snares: Let Caesar witness.
CLEO. I loved not Caesar; 'twas but gratitude
I paid his love: The worst your malice can
Is but to say the greatest of mankind
Has been my slave. The nextbut far above him
In my esteemis he whom law calls yours
But whom his love made mine.
OCTAV. I would view nearer [Coming up close to her.
That facewhich has so long usurped my right
To find the inevitable charmsthat catch
Mankind so surethat ruined my dear lord.
CLEO. Ohyou dowell to search; for had you known
But half these charmsyou had not lost his heart.
OCTAV. Far be their knowledge from a Roman lady
Far from a modest wife! Shame of our sex
Dost thou not blush to own those black endearments
That make sin pleasing?
CLEO. You may blushwho want them.
If bounteous natureif indulgent Heaven
Have given me charms to please the bravest man
Should I not thank them? Should I be ashamed
And not be proud? I amthat he has loved me;
Andwhen I love not himHeaven change this face
For one like that.
OCTAV. Thou lov'st him not so well.
CLEO. I love him betterand deserve him more.
OCTAV. You do not; cannot: You have been his ruin.
Who made him cheap at Romebut Cleopatra?
Who made him scorned abroadbut Cleopatra?
At Actiumwho betrayed him? Cleopatra.
Who made his children orphansand poor me
A wretched widow? only Cleopatra.
CLEO. Yet shewho loves him bestis Cleopatra.
If you have sufferedI have suffered more.
You bear the specious title of a wife
To gild your causeand draw the pitying world
To favour it: the world condemns poor me.
For I have lost my honourlost my fame
And stained the glory of my royal house
And all to bear the branded name of mistress.
There wants but lifeand that too I would lose
For him I love.
OCTAV. Be't sothen; take thy wish. [Exit with her Train.
CLEO. And 'tis my wish
Now he is lost for whom alone I lived.
My sight grows dimand every object dances
And swims before mein the maze of death.
My spiritswhile they were opposedkept up;
They could not sink beneath a rival's scorn!
But now she's gonethey faint.
ALEX. Mine have had leisure
To recollect their strengthand furnish counsel
To ruin herwho else must ruin you.
CLEO. Vain promiser!
Lead memy Charmion; nayyour hand tooIras.
My grief has weight enough to sink you both.
Conduct me to some solitary chamber
And draw the curtains round;
Then leave me to myselfto take alone
My fill of grief:
There I till death will his unkindness weep;
As harmless infants moan themselves asleep. [Exeunt.
SCENE I -
Enter ANTONY and DOLABELLA. -
DOLA. Why would you shift it from yourself on me?
Can you not tell heryou must part?
ANT. I cannot.
I could pull out an eyeand bid it go
And t'other should not weep. O Dolabella
How many deaths are in this wordDepart!
I dare not trust my tongue to tell her so:
One look of hers would thaw me into tears
And I should melttill I were lost again.
DOLA. Then let Ventidius;
He's rough by nature.
ANT. Ohhe'll speak too harshly;
He'll kill her with the news: Thouonly thou.
DOLA. Nature has cast me in so soft a mould
That but to hear a storyfeigned for pleasure
Of some sad lover's deathmoistens my eyes
And robs me of my manhood. I should speak
So faintlywith such fear to grieve her heart
She'd not believe it earnest.
ANT. Therefore- therefore
Thou onlythou art fit: Think thyself me;
And when thou speak'st (but let it first be long)
Take off the edge from every sharper sound
And let our parting be as gently made
As other loves begin: Wilt thou do this?
DOLA. What you have said so sinks into my soul
Thatif I must speakI shall speak just so.
ANT. I leave you then to your sad task: Farewell.
I sent her word to meet you. [Goes to the doorand comes back.
Let her be toldI'll make her peace with mine:
Her crown and dignity shall be preserved
If I have power with Caesar.- Ohbe sure
To think on that.
DOLA. Fear notI will remember.
[ANTONY goes again to the doorand comes back.
ANT. And tell hertoohow much I was constrained;
I did not thisbut with extremest force:
Desire her not to hate my memory
For I still cherish hers;- insist on that.
DOLA. Trust meI'll not forget it.
ANT. Then that's all. [Goes outand returns again.
Wilt thou forgive my fondness this once more?
Tell herthough we shall never meet again
If I should hear she took another love
The news would break my heart.- Now I must go;
For every time I have returnedI feel
My soul more tender; and my next command
Would beto bid her stayand ruin both. [Exit.
DOLA. Men are but children of a larger growth;
Our appetites as apt to change as theirs
And full as craving tooand full as vain;
And yet the soulshut up in her dark room
Viewing so clear abroadat home sees nothing;
Butlike a mole in earthbusy and blind
Works all her folly upand casts it outward
To the world's open view: Thus I discovered
And blamed the love of ruined Antony;
Yet wish that I were heto be so ruined. -
Enter VENTIDIUS above. -
VENT. Aloneand talking to himself? concerned too?
Perhaps my guess is right; he loved her once
And may pursue it still.
DOLA. O friendship! friendship!
Ill canst thou answer this; and reasonworse:
Unfaithful in the attempt; hopeless to win;
And if I winundone: mere madness all.
And yet the occasion's fair. What injury
To himto wear the robe which he throws by!
VENT. Nonenone at all. This happens as I wish
To ruin her yet more with Antony. -
Enter CLEOPATRAtalking with ALEXAS; CHARMION
IRAS on the other side. -
DOLA. She comes! What charms have sorrow on that face!
Sorrow seems pleased to dwell with so much sweetness;
Yetnow and thena melancholy smile
Breaks looselike lightning in a winter's night
And shows a moment's day.
VENT. If she should love him too! her eunuch there?
That porc'pisce bodes ill weather. Drawdraw nearer
Sweet devilthat I may hear.
ALEX. Believe me; try
[DOLABELLA goes over to CHARMION and IRAS; seems to
talk with them.
To make him jealous; jealousy is like
A polished glass held to the lips when life's in doubt;
If there be breath'twill catch the dampand show it.
CLEO. I grant youjealousy's a proof of love
But 'tis a weak and unavailing medicine;
It puts out the diseaseand makes it show
But has no power to cure.
ALEX. 'Tis your last remedyand strongest too:
And then this Dolabellawho so fit
To practise on? He's handsomevaliantyoung
And looks as he were laid for nature's bait
To catch weak women's eyes.
He stands already more than half suspected
Of loving you: the least kind word or glance
You give this youthwill kindle him with love:
Thenlike a burning vessel set adrift
You'll send him down amain before the wind
To fire the heart of jealous Antony.
CLEO. Can I do this? Ahno; my love's so true
That I can neither hide it where it is
Nor show it where it is not. Nature meant me
A wife; a sillyharmlesshousehold dove
Fond without artand kind without deceit;
But Fortunethat has made a mistress of me
Has thrust me out to the wide worldunfurnished
Of falsehood to be happy.
ALEX. Force yourself.
The event will beyour lover will return
Doubly desirous to possess the good
Which once he feared to lose.
CLEO. I must attempt it;
But ohwith what regret!
[Exit ALEXAS. She comes up to DOLABELLA.
VENT. Sonow the scene draws near; they're in my reach.
CLEO. [to DOL.]. Discoursing with my women! might not I
Share in your entertainment?
CHAR. You have been
The subject of itmadam.
CLEO. How! and how?
IRAS. Such praises of your beauty!
CLEO. Mere poetry.
Your Roman witsyour Gallus and Tibullus
Have taught you this from Cytheris and Delia.
DOLA. Those Roman wits have never been in Egypt;
Cytheris and Delia else had been unsung:
Iwho have seen- had I been born a poet
Should choose a nobler name.
CLEO. You flatter me.
But'tis your nation's vice: All of your country
Are flatterersand all false. Your friend's like you.
I'm surehe sent you not to speak these words.
DOLA. Nomadam; yet he sent me-
CLEO. Wellhe sent you-
DOLA. Of a less pleasing errand.
CLEO. How less pleasing?
Less to yourselfor me?
DOLA. Madamto both;
For you must mournand I must grieve to cause it.
CLEO. YouCharmionand your fellowstand at distance.-
Hold upmy spirits. [Aside]- Wellnow your mournful matter!
For I'm preparedperhaps can guess it too.
DOLA. I wish you would; for 'tis a thankless office
To tell ill news: And Iof all your sex
Most fear displeasing you.
CLEO. Of all your sex
I soonest could forgive youif you should.
VENT. Most delicate advances! Women! women!
CLEO. In the first place
I am to be forsaken; is't not so?
DOLA. I wish I could not answer to that question.
CLEO. Then pass it o'erbecause it troubles you:
I should have been more grieved another time.
Next I'm to lose my kingdom- FarewellEgypt!
Yetis there any more?
DOLA. MadamI fear
Your too deep sense of grief has turned your reason.
CLEO. NonoI'm not run mad; I can bear fortune:
And love may be expelled by other love
As poisons are by poisons.
DOLA. You o'erjoy memadam
To find your griefs so moderately borne.
You've heard the worst; all are not false like him.
CLEO. No; Heaven forbid they should.
DOLA. Some men are constant.
CLEO. And constancy deserves rewardthat's certain.
DOLA. Deserves it not; but give it leave to hope.
VENT. I'll swearthou hast my leave. I have enough:
But how to manage this! WellI'll consider. [Exit.
DOLA. I came prepared
To tell you heavy news; newswhich I thought
Would fright the blood from your pale cheeks to hear:
But you have met it with a cheerfulness
That makes my task more easy; and my tongue
Which on another's message was employed
Would gladly speak its own.
First tell mewere you chosen by my lord?
Or sought you this employment?
DOLA. He picked me out; andas his bosom friend
He charged me with his words.
CLEO. The message then
I know was tenderand each accent smooth
To mollify that rugged wordDepart.
DOLA. Ohyou mistake: He chose the harshest words;
With fiery eyesand with contracted brows
He coined his face in the severest stamp;
And fury shook his fabriclike an earthquake;
He heaved for ventand burst like bellowing AEtna
In sounds scarce human- "Hence away for ever
Let her begonethe blot of my renown
And bane of all my hopes!"
[All the time of this speechCLEOPATRA seems more
and more concernedtill she sinks quite down.
"Let her be drivenas far as men can think
From man's commerce! she'll poison to the centre."
CLEO. OhI can bear no more!
DOLA. Helphelp!- O wretch! O cursedcursed wretch!
What have I done!
CHAR. Helpchafe her templesIras.
IRAS. Bendbend her forward quickly.
CHAR. Heaven be praised
She comes again.
CLEO. Ohlet him not approach me.
Why have you brought me back to this loathed being
The abode of falsehoodviolated vows
And injured love? For pitylet me go;
Forif there be a place of long repose
I'm sure I want it. My disdainful lord
Can never break that quiet; nor awake
The sleeping soulwith hollowing in my tomb
Such words as fright her hence.- Unkindunkind!
DOLA. Believe me'tis against myself I speak; [Kneeling.
That sure desires belief; I injured him:
My friend ne'er spoke those words. Ohhad you seen
How often he came backand every time
With something more obliging and more kind
To add to what he said; what dear farewells;
How almost vanquished by his love he parted
And learned to what unwillingly he left!
Itraitor as I wasfor love of you.
(But what can you not dowho made me false?)
I forged that lie; for whose forgiveness kneels
This self-accusedself-punished criminal
CLEO. With how much ease believe we what we wish!
RiseDolabella; if you have been guilty
I have contributedand too much love
Has made me guilty too.
The advance of kindnesswhich I madewas feigned
To call back fleeting love by jealousy;
But 'twould not last. Ohrather let me lose
Than so ignobly trifle with his heart.
DOLA. I find your breast fenced round from human reach
Transparent as a rock of solid crystal;
Seen throughbut never pierced. My friendmy friend
What endless treasure hast thou thrown away;
And scatteredlike an infantin the ocean
Vain sums of wealthwhich none can gather thence!
CLEO. Could you not beg
An hour's admittance to his private ear?
Like onewho wanders through long barren wilds
And yet foreknows no hospitable inn
Is near to succour hungereats his fill
Before his painful march;
So would I feed a while my famished eyes
Before we part; for I have far to go
If death be farand never must return. -
VENTIDIUS with OCTAVIAbehind. -
VENT. From hence you may discover- ohsweetsweet!
Would you indeed? The pretty hand in earnest?
DOLA. I willfor this reward. [Takes her hand.
Draw it not back.
'Tis all I e'er will beg.
VENT. They turn upon us.
OCTAV. What quick eyes has guilt!
VENT. Seem not to have observed themand go on. -
They enter. -
DOLA. Saw you the emperorVentidius?
I sought him; but I heard that he was private
None with him but Hipparchushis freedman.
DOLA. Know you his business?
VENT. Giving him instructions
And letters to his brother Caesar.
He must be found. [Exeunt DOLABELLA and CLEOPATRA.
OCTAV. Most glorious impudence!
VENT. She lookedmethought
As she would say- Take your old manOctavia;
Thank youI'm better here.-
Wellbut what use
Make we of this discovery?
OCTAV. Let it die.
VENT. I pity Dolabella; but she's dangerous;
Her eyes have power beyond Thessalian charms
To draw the moon from heaven; for eloquence
The sea-green Syrens taught her voice their flattery;
Andwhile she speaksnight steals upon the day
Unmarked of those that hear: Then she's so charming
Age buds at sight of herand swells to youth:
The holy priests gaze on her when she smiles;
And with heaved bandsforgetting gravity
They bless her wanton eyes: Even Iwho hate her
With a malignant joy behold such beauty;
Andwhile I cursedesire it. Antony
Must needs have some remains of passion still
Which may ferment into a worse relapse
If now not fully cured. I knowthis minute
With Caesar he's endeavouring her peace.
OCTAV. You have prevailed:- But for a further purpose
I'll prove how he will relish this discovery.
Whatmake a strumpet's peace! it swells my heart:
It must notshall not be.
VENT. His guards appear.
Let me beginand you shall second me. -
Enter ANTONY. -
ANT. OctaviaI was looking youmy love:
Whatare your letters ready? I have given
My last instructions.
OCTAV. Minemy lordare written.
ANT. Ventidius. [Drawing him aside.
VENT. My lord?
ANT. A word in private.-
When saw you Dolabella?
VENT. Nowmy lord
He parted hence; and Cleopatra with him.
ANT. Speak softly.- 'Twas by my command he went
To bear my last farewell.
VENT. It looked indeed [Aloud.
Like your farewell.
ANT. More softly.- My farewell?
What secret meaning have you in those words
Of- My farewell? He did it by my order.
VENT. Then he obeyed your order. I suppose [Aloud.
You bid him do it with all gentleness
All kindnessand all- love.
ANT. How she mourned
The poor forsaken creature!
VENT. She took it as she ought; she bore your parting
As she did Caesar'sas she would another's
Were a new love to come.
ANT. Thou dost belie her; [Aloud.
Most baselyand maliciously belie her.
VENT. I thought not to displease you; I have done.
OCTAV. You seemed disturbedmy lord. [Coming up.
ANT. A very trifle.
VENT. It was indeed a trifle.
ANT. No more. Look how thou disobey'st me; [Angrily.
Thy life shall answer it.
OCTAV. Then 'tis no trifle.
VENT. [to OCTAV.]. 'Tis less; a very nothing: You too saw it
As well as Iand therefore 'tis no secret.
ANT. She saw it!
VENT. Yes: She saw young Dolabella-
ANT. Young Dolabella!
VENT. YoungI think him young
And handsome too; and so do others think him.
But what of that? He went by your command
Indeed 'tis probablewith some kind message;
For she received it graciously; she smiled;
And then he grew familiar with her hand
Squeezed itand worried it with ravenous kisses;
She blushedand sighedand smiledand blushed again;
At last she took occasion to talk softly
And brought her cheek up closeand leaned on his;
At whichhe whispered kisses back on hers;
And then she cried aloud- That constancy
Should be rewarded.
OCTAV. This I saw and heard.
ANT. What woman was itwhom you heard and saw
So playful with my friend?
VENT. Even shemy lord.
ANT. My Cleopatra?
VENT. Your Cleopatra;
Dolabella's Cleopatra; every man's Cleopatra.
ANT. Thou liest.
VENT. I do not liemy lord.
Is this so strange? Should mistresses be left
And not provide against a time of change?
You know she's not much used to lonely nights.
ANT. I'll think no more on't.
I know 'tis falseand see the plot betwixt you.-
You needed not have gone this wayOctavia.
What harms it you that Cleopatra's just?
She's mine no more. I seeand I forgive:
Urge it no furtherlove.
OCTAV. Are you concerned
That she's found false?
ANT. I should bewere it so;
Forthough 'tis pastI would not that the world
Should tax my former choicethat I loved one
Of so light note; but I forgive you both.
VENT. What has my age deservedthat you should think
I would abuse your ears with perjury?
If Heaven be trueshe's false.
ANT. Though heaven and earth
Should witness itI'll not believe her tainted.
VENT. I'll bring youthena witness
From hellto prove her so.- Naygo not back;
[Seeing ALEXAS just enteringand starting back.
For stay you must and shall.
ALEX. What means my lord?
VENT. To make you do what most you hate- speak truth.
You are of Cleopatra's private counsel
Of her bed-counselher lascivious hours;
Are conscious of each nightly change she makes
And watch heras Chaldeans do the moon
Can tell what signs she passes throughwhat day.
ALEX. My noble lord!
VENT. My most illustrious pander
No fine set speechno cadenceno turned periods
But a plain homespun truthis what I ask:
I didmyselfo'erhear your queen make love
To Dolabella. Speak; for I will know
By your confessionwhat more passed betwixt them;
How near the business draws to your employment;
And when the happy hour.
ANT. Speak truthAlexas; whether it offend
Or please Ventidiuscare not: Justify
Thy injured queen from malice: Dare his worst.
OCTAV. [Aside.] See how he gives him courage! how he fears
To find her false! and shuts his eyes to truth
Willing to be misled!
ALEX. As far as love may plead for woman's frailty
Urged by desert and greatness of the lover
So fardivine Octaviamay my queen
Stand even excused to you for loving him
Who is your lord: so farfrom brave Ventidius
May her past actions hope a fair report.
ANT. 'Tis welland truly spoken: markVentidius.
ALEX. To youmost noble emperorher strong passion
Stands not excusedbut wholly justified.
Her beauty's charms alonewithout her crown
From Ind and Meroe drew the distant vows
Of sighing kings; and at her feet were laid
The sceptres of the earthexposed on heaps
To choose where she would reign:
She thought a Roman only could deserve her
Andof all Romansonly Antony;
Andto be less than wife to youdisdained
Their lawful passion.
ANT. 'Tis but truth.
ALEX. And yetthough loveand your unmatched desert
Have drawn her from the due regard of honour
At last Heaven opened her unwilling eyes
To see the wrongs she offered fair Octavia
Whose holy bed she lawlessly usurped.
The sad effects of this improsperous war
Confirmed those pious thoughts.
VENT. [Aside.] Ohwheel you there?
Observe him now; the man begins to mend
And talk substantial reason.- Fear noteunuch;
The emperor has given thee leave to speak.
ALEX. Else had I never dared to offend his ears
With what the last necessity has urged
On my forsaken mistress; yet I must not
Presume to sayher heart is wholly altered.
ANT. Nodare not for thy lifeI charge thee dare not
Pronounce that fatal word!
OCTAV. Must I bear this? Good Heavenafford me patience.
VENT. Onsweet eunuch; my dear half-manproceed.
ALEX. Yet Dolabella
Has loved her long; henext my god-like lord
Deserves her best; and should she meet his passion
Rejectedas she isby him she loved-
ANT. Hence from my sight! for I can bear no more:
Let furies drag thee quick to hell; let all
The longer damned have rest; each torturing hand
Do thou employtill Cleopatra comes;
Then join thou tooand help to torture her!
[Exit ALEXASthrust out by ANTONY.
OCTAV. 'Tis not well
Indeedmy lord'tis much unkind to me
To show this passionthis extreme concernment
For an abandonedfaithless prostitute.
ANT. Octavialeave me; I am much disordered:
Leave meI say.
OCTAV. My lord!
ANT. I bid you leave me.
VENT. Obey himmadam: best withdraw a while
And see how this will work.
OCTAV. Wherein have I offended youmy lord
That I am bid to leave you? Am I false
Or infamous? Am I a Cleopatra?
Were I she
Base as she isyou would not bid me leave you;
But hang upon my necktake slight excuses
And fawn upon my falsehood.
ANT. 'Tis too much.
Too muchOctavia; I am pressed with sorrows
Too heavy to be borne; and you add more:
I would retireand recollect what's left
Of man withinto aid me.
OCTAV. You would mourn
In privatefor your lovewho has betrayed you.
You did but half return to me: your kindness
Lingered behind with her. I hearmy lord
You make conditions for her
And would include her treaty. Wondrous proofs
Of love to me!
ANT. Are you my friendVentidius?
Or are you turned a Dolabella too
And let this fury loose?
VENT. Ohbe advised
Sweet madamand retire.
OCTAV. YesI will go; but never to return.
You shall no more be haunted with this Fury.
My lordmy lordlove will not always last
When urged with long unkindness and disdain:
Take her againwhom you prefer to me;
She stays but to be called. Poor cozened man!
Let a feigned parting give her back your heart
Which a feigned love first got; for injured me
Though my just sense of wrongs forbid my stay
My duty shall be yours.
To the dear pledges of our former love
My tenderness and care shall be transferred
And they shall cheerby turnsmy widowed nights:
Sotake my last farewell; for I despair
To have you wholeand scorn to take you half. [Exit.]
VENT. I combat Heavenwhich blasts my best designs:
My last attempt must be to win her back;
But oh! I fear in vain. [Exit.]
ANT. Why was I framed with this plainhonest heart
Which knows not to disguise its griefs and weakness
But bears its workings outward to the world?
I should have kept the mighty anguish in
And forced a smile at Cleopatra's falsehood:
Octavia had believed itand had stayed.
But I am made a shallow-forded stream
Seen to the bottom: all my clearness scorned
And all my faults exposed.- See where he comes-
Enter DOLABELLA. -
Who has profaned the sacred name of friend
And worn it into vileness!
With how secure a browand specious form
He gilds the secret villain! Sure that face
Was meant for honesty; but Heaven mismatched it
And furnished treason out with nature's pomp
To make its work more easy.
DOLA. O my friend!
ANT. WellDolabellayou performed my message?
DOLA. I didunwillingly.
Was it so hard for you to bear our parting?
You should have wished it.
ANT. Because you love me.
And she received my message with as true
With as unfeigned a sorrow as you brought it?
DOLA. She loves youeven to madness.
ANT. OhI know it.
YouDolabellado not better know
How much she loves me. And should I
Forsake this beauty? This all-perfect creature?
DOLA. I could notwere she mine.
ANT. And yet you first
Persuaded me: How come you altered since?
DOLA. I said at first I was not fit to go:
I could not hear her sighsand see her tears
But pity must prevail: And soperhaps
It may again with you; for I have promised
That she should take her last farewell: Andsee
She comes to claim my word. -
Enter CLEOPATRA. -
ANT. False Dolabella!
DOLA. What's falsemy lord?
ANT. WhyDolabella's false
And Cleopatra's false; both false and faithless.
Draw nearyou well-joined wickednessyou serpents
Whom I have in my kindly bosom warmed
Till I am stung to death.
DOLA. My lordhave I
Deserved to be thus used?
CLEO. Can Heaven prepare
A newer torment? Can it find a curse
Beyond our separation?
ANT. Yesif fate
Be justmuch greater: Heaven should be ingenious
In punishing such crimes. The rolling stone
And gnawing vulturewere slight painsinvented
When Jove was youngand no examples known
Of mighty ills; but you have ripened sin
To such a monstrous growth'twill pose the gods
To find an equal torture. Twotwo such!-
Ohthere's no further name- two such! to me
To mewho locked my soul within your breasts
Had no desiresno joysno lifebut you;
When half the globe was mineI gave it you
In dowry with my heart; I had no use
No fruit of allbut you: A friend and mistress
Was what the world could give. O Cleopatra!
O Dolabella! how could you betray
This tender heartwhich with an infant fondness
Lay lulled betwixt your bosomsand there slept
Secure of injured faith?
DOLA. If she has wronged you
Heavenhelland you revenge it.
ANT. If she has wronged me!
Thou wouldst evade thy part of guilt; but swear
Thou lov'st not her.
DOLA. Not so as I love you.
ANT. Not so? SwearswearI saythou dost not love her.
DOLA. No more than friendship will allow.
ANT. No more?
Friendship allows thee nothing: Thou art perjured-
And yet thou didst not swear thou lov'st her not;
But not so muchno more. O trifling hypocrite
Who dar'st not own to herthou dost not love
Nor own to methou dost! Ventidius heard it;
Octavia saw it.
CLEO. They are enemies.
ANT. Alexas is not so: Hehe confessed it;
Hewhonext hellbest knew ithe avowed it.
Why do I seek a proof beyond yourself? [To DOLABELLA.
Youwhom I sent to bear my last farewell
Returnedto plead her stay.
DOLA. What shall I answer?
If to have loved be guiltthen I have sinned;
But if to have repented of that love
Can wash away my crimeI have repented.
Yetif I have offended past forgiveness
Let not her suffer: She is innocent.
CLEO. Ahwhat will not a woman dowho loves?
What means will she refuseto keep that heart
Where all her joys are placed? 'Twas I encouraged
'Twas I blew up the fire that scorched his soul
To make you jealousand by that regain you.
But all in vain; I could not counterfeit:
In spite of all the dams my love broke o'er
And drowned my heart again: fate took the occasion;
And thus one minute's feigning has destroyed
My whole life's truth.
ANT. Thin cobweb arts of falsehood;
Seenand broke through at first.
DOLA. Forgive your mistress.
CLEO. Forgive your friend.
ANT. You have convinced yourselves.
You plead each other's cause: What witness have you
That you but meant to raise my jealousy?
CLEO. Ourselvesand Heaven.
ANT. Guilt witnesses for guilt. Hencelove and friendship!
You have no longer place in human breasts
These two have driven you out: Avoid my sight!
I would not kill the man whom I have loved
And cannot hurt the woman; but avoid me:
I do not know how long I can be tame;
Forif I stay one minute moreto think
How I am wrongedmy justice and revenge
Will cry so loud within methat my pity
Will not be heard for either.
DOLA. Heaven has but
Our sorrow for our sins; and then delights
To pardon erring man: Sweet mercy seems
Its darling attributewhich limits justice;
As if there were degrees in infinite
And infinite would rather want perfection
Than punish to extent.
ANT. I can forgive
A foe; but not a mistress and a friend.
Treason is there in its most horrid shape
Where trust is greatest; and the soul resigned
Is stabbed by its own guards: I'll hear no more;
Hence from my sight for ever!
CLEO. How? for ever!
I cannot go one moment from your sight
And must I go for ever?
My joysmy only joysare centred here:
What place have I to go to? My own kingdom?
That I have lost for you: Or to the Romans?
They hate me for your sake: Or must I wander
The wide world o'era helplessbanished woman
Banished for love of you; banished from you?
Aythere's the banishment! Ohhear me; hear me
With strictest justice: For I beg no favour;
And if I have offended youthen kill me
But do not banish me.
ANT. I must not hear you.
I have a fool within me takes your part;
But honour stops my ears.
CLEO. For pity hear me!
Would you cast off a slave who followed you?
Who crouched beneath your spurn?- He has no pity!
Seeif he gives one tear to my departure;
One lookone kind farewell: O iron heart!
Let all the gods look downand judge betwixt us
If he did ever love!
ANT. No more: Alexas!
DOLA. A perjured villain!
ANT. [To CLEO.] Your Alexas; yours.
CLEO. Oh'twas his plot; his ruinous design
To engage you in my love by jealousy.
Hear him; confront him with me; let him speak.
ANT. I have; I have.
CLEO. And if he clear me not-
ANT. Your creature! onewho hangs upon your smiles!
Watches your eyeto say or to unsay
Whate'er you please! I am not to be moved.
CLEO. Then must we part? Farewellmy cruel lord!
The appearance is against me; and I go
Unjustifiedfor ever from your sight.
How I have lovedyou know; how yet I love
My only comfort isI know myself:
I love you moreeven now you are unkind
Than when you loved me most; so wellso truly
I'll never strive against it; but die pleased
To think you once were mine.
ANT. Good heaventhey weep at parting!
Must I weep too? that calls them innocent.
I must not weep; and yet I mustto think
That I must not forgive.-
Livebut live wretched; 'tis but just you should
Who made me so: Live from each other's sight:
Let me not hear you meet. Set all the earth
And all the seasbetwixt your sundered loves:
View nothing common but the sun and skies.
Nowall take several ways;
And each your own sad fatewith minedeplore;
That you were falseand I could trust no more.
SCENE I -
Enter CLEOPATRACHARMIONand IRAS. -
CHAR. Be justerHeaven; such virtue punished thus
Will make us think that chance rules all above
And shuffleswith a random handthe lots
Which man is forced to draw.
CLEO. I could tear out these eyesthat gained his heart
And had not power to keep it. O the curse
Of doting oneven when I find it dotage!
Bear witnessgodsyou heard him bid me go;
Youwhom be mocked with imprecating vows
Of promised faith!- I'll die; I will not bear it.
You may hold me-
[She pulls out her daggerand they hold her. -
But I can keep my breath; I can die inward
And choke this love. -
Enter ALEXAS. -
IRAS. HelpO Alexashelp!
The queen grows desperate; her soul struggles in her
With all the agonies of love and rage
And strives to force its passage.
CLEO. Let me go.
Art thou theretraitor!- O
O for a little breathto vent my rage
Givegive me wayand let me loose upon him.
ALEX. YesI deserve itfor my ill-timed truth.
Was it for me to prop
The ruins of a falling majesty?
To place myself beneath the mighty flaw
Thus to be crushedand pounded into atoms
By its o'erwhelming weight? 'Tis too presuming
For subjects to preserve that wilful power
Which courts its own destruction.
CLEO. I would reason
More calmly with you. Did not you o'errule
And force my plaindirectand open love
Into these crooked paths of jealousy?
Nowwhat's the event? Octavia is removed;
But Cleopatra's banished. Thouthou villain
Hast pushed my boat to open sea: to prove
At my sad costif thou canst steer it back.
It cannot be; I'm lost too far; I'm ruined:
I can no more: Thouand my griefshave sunk
Me down so low; that I want voice to curse thee.
ALEX. Suppose some shipwrecked seaman near the shore
Dropping and faint with climbing up the cliff
Iffrom abovesome charitable hand
Pull him to safetyhazarding himself
To draw the other's weight; would he look back
And curse him for his pains? The case is yours;
But one step moreand you have gained the height.
CLEO. Sunknever more to rise.
ALEX. Octavia's goneand Dolabella banished.
Belive memadamAntony is yours.
His heart was never lostbut started off
To jealousylove's last retreat and covert;
Whereit lies hid in shadeswatchful in silence
And listening for the sound that calls it back.
Some otherany man ('tis so advanced)
May perfect this unfinished workwhich I
(Unhappy only to myself) have left
So easy to his hand.
CLEO. Look well thou do't; else-
ALEX. Elsewhat your silence threatens.- Antony
Is mounted up the Pharos; from whose turret
He stands surveying our Egyptian galleys
Engaged with Caesar's fleet. Now death or conquest!
If the first happenfate acquits my promise;
If we o'ercomethe conqueror is yours. [A distant shout within.
CHAR. Have comfortmadam: Did you mark that shout?
[Second shout nearer.
IRAS. Hark! they redouble it.
ALEX. 'Tis from the port.
The loudness shows it near: Good newskind heavens!
CLEO. Osiris make it so! -
Enter SERAPION. -
SERAP. Wherewhere's the queen?
ALEX. How frightfully the holy coward stares
As if not yet recovered of the assault
When all his godsandwhat's more dear to him
His offeringswere at stake.
SERAP. O horrorhorror!
Egypt has been; our latest hour has come:
The queen of nationsfrom her ancient seat
Is sunk for ever in the dark abyss:
Time has unrolled her glories to the last
And now closed up the volume.
CLEO. Be more plain:
Saywhence thou comest; though fate is in thy face
Which from thy haggard eyes looks wildly out
And threatens ere thou speakest.
SERAP. I came from Pharos;
From viewing (spare meand imagine it)
Our land's last hopeyour navy-
They fought not.
CLEO. Then they fled.
SERAP. Nor that. I saw
With Antonyyour well-appointed fleet
Row out; and thrice he waved his hand on high
And thrice with cheerful cries they shouted back:
'Twas then false Fortunelike a fawning strumpet
About to leave the bankrupt prodigal
With a dissembled smile would kiss at parting
And flatter to the last; the well-timed oars
Now dipt from every banknow smoothly run
To meet the foe; and soon indeed they met
But not as foes. In fewwe saw their caps
On either side thrown up; the Egyptian galleys
Received like friendspassed throughand fell behind
The Roman rear: And nowthey all come forward
And ride within the port.
I've heard my doom.- This needed notyou gods:
When I lost Antonyyour work was done;
'Tis but superfluous malice.- Where's my lord?
How bears he this last blow?
SERAP. His fury cannot be expressed by words:
Thrice he attempted headlong to have fallen
Full on his foesand aimed at Caesar's galley:
Withheldhe raves on you; cries- He's betrayed.
Should he now find you-
ALEX. Shun him; seek your safety
Till you can clear your innocence.
CLEO. I'll stay.
ALEX. You must not; haste you to your monument
While I make speed to Caesar
CLEO. Caesar! No
I haveno business with him.
ALEX. I can work him
To spare your lifeand let this madman perish.
CLEO. Base fawning wretch! wouldst thou betray him too?
Hence from my sight! I will not hear a traitor;
'Twas thy design brought all this ruin on us.-
Serapionthou art honest; counsel me:
But hasteeach moment's precious.
SERAP. Retire; you must not yet see Antony.
He who began this mischief
'Tis just he tempt the danger; let him clear you:
Andsince he offered you his servile tongue
To gain a poor precarious life from Caesar
Let him expose that fawning eloquence
And speak to Antony.
ALEX. O heavens! I dare not;
I meet my certain death.
CLEO. Slavethou deservest it.-
Not that I fear my lordwill I avoid him;
I know him noble: when he banished me
And thought me falsehe scorned to take my life;
But I'll be justifiedand then die with him.
ALEX. O pity meand let me follow you.
CLEO. To deathif thou stir hence. Speakif thou canst
Now for thy lifewhich basely thou wouldst save;
While mine I prize at- this! Comegood Serapion.
[Exeunt CLEOPATRASERAPIONCHARMIONand IRAS.
ALEX. O that I less could fear to lose this being
Whichlike a snowball in my coward hand
The more 'tis graspedthe faster melts away.
Poor reason! what a wretched aid art thou!
For stillin spite of thee
These two long loverssoul and bodydread
Their final separation. Let me think:
What can I sayto save myself from death?
No matter what becomes of Cleopatra.
ANT. Which way? where? [Within.
VENT. This leads to the monument. [Within.
ALEX. Ah me! I hear him; yet I'm unprepared:
My gift of lying's gone;
And this court-devilwhich I so oft have raised
Forsakes me at my need. I dare not stay;
Yet cannot far go hence. [Exit. -
Enter ANTONY and VENTIDIUS. -
ANT. O happy Caesar! thou hast men to lead:
Think not 'tis thou hast conquered Antony;
But Rome has conquered Egypt. I'm betrayed.
VENT. Curse on this treacherous train!
Their soil and heaven infect them all with baseness:
And their young souls come tainted to the world
With the first breath they draw.
ANT. The original villain sure no god created;
He was a bastard of the sunby Nile
Aped into man; with all his mother's mud
Crusted about his soul.
VENT. The nation is
One universal traitor; and their queen
The very spirit and extract of them all.
ANT. Is there yet left
A possibility of aid from valour?
Is there one god unsworn to my destruction?
The least unmortgaged hope? forif there be
Methinks I cannot fall beneath the fate
Of such a boy as Caesar.
The world's one half is yet in Antony;
And from each limb of itthat's hewed away
The soul comes back to me.
VENT. There yet remain
Three legions in the town. The last assault
Lopt off the rest; if death be your design-
As I must wish it now- these are sufficient
To make a heap about us of dead foes
An honest pile for burial.
ANT. They are enough.
We'll not divide our stars; butside by side
Fight emulousand with malicious eyes
Survey each other's acts: So every death
Thou giv'stI'll take on meas a just debt
And pay thee back a soul.
VENT. Now you shall see I love you. Not a word
Of chiding more. By my few hours of life
I am so pleased with this brave Roman fate
That I would not be Caesarto outlive you.
When we put off this fleshand mount together
I shall be shown to all the ethereal crowd-
Lothis is he who died with Antony!
ANT. Who knowsbut we may pierce through all their troops
And reach my veterans yet? 'tis worth the 'tempting
To o'erleap this gulf of fate
And leave our wandering destinies behind. -
Enter ALEXAStrembling. -
VENT. Seeseethat villain!
See Cleopatra stamped upon that face
With all her cunningall her arts of falsehood!
How she looks out through those dissembling eyes!
How he sets his countenance for deceit
And promises a liebefore he speaks!
Let me despatch him first. [Drawing.
ALEX. O spare mespare me!
ANT. Hold; he's not worth your killing.- On thy life
Which thou may'st keepbecause I scorn to take it
No syllable to justify thy queen;
Save thy base tongue its office.
ALEX. Sirshe is gone
Where she shall never be molested more
By loveor you.
ANT. Fled to her Dolabella!
Dietraitor! I revoke my promise! die! [Going to kill him.
ALEX. O hold! she is not fled.
ANT. She is: my eyes
Are open to her falsehood; my whole life
Has been a golden dream of love and friendship;
Butnow I wakeI'm like a merchantroused
From soft reposeto see his vessel sinking
And all his wealth cast over. Ungrateful woman!
Who followed mebut as the swallow summer
Hatching her young ones in my kindly beams
Singing her flatteries to my morning make:
Butnow my winter comesshe spreads her wings
And seeks the spring of Caesar.
ALEX. Think not so:
Her fortunes havein all thingsmixed with yours.
Had she betrayed her naval force to Rome
How easily might she have gone to Caesar
Secure by such a bribe!
VENT. She sent it first
To be more welcome after.
ANT. 'Tis too plain;
Else would she have appearedto clear herself.
ALEX. Too fatally she has: she could not bear
To be accused by you; but shut herself
Within her monument; looked down and sighed;
Whilefrom her unchanged facethe silent tears
Droptas they had not leavebut stole their parting.
Some indistinguished words she inly murmured;
At lastshe raised her eyes; andwith such looks
As dying Lucrece cast-
ANT. My heart forebodes-
VENT. All for the best:- Go on.
ALEX. She snatched her poniard
Andere we could prevent the fatal blow
Plunged it within her breast; then turned to me:
Gobear my lordsaid shemy last farewell;
And ask himif he yet suspect my faith.
More she was sayingbut death rushed betwixt.
She half pronounced your name with her last breath
And buried half within her.
VENT. Heaven be praised!
ANT. Then art thou innocentmy poor dear love
And art thou dead?
O those two words! their sound should be divided:
Hadst thou been falseand died; or hadst thou lived
And hadst been true- But innocence and death!
This shows not well above. Then what am I
The murderer of this truththis innocence!
Thoughts cannot form themselves in words so horrid
As can express my guilt!
VENT. Is't come to this? The gods have been too gracious;
And thus you thank them for it!
ANT. [To ALEX.] Why stayest thou here?
Is it for thee to spy upon my soul
And see its inward mourning? Get thee hence;
Thou art not worthy to beholdwhat now
Becomes a Roman emperor to perform.
ALEX. He loves her still:
His grief betrays it. Good! the joy to find
She's yet alivecompletes the reconcilement.
I've saved myselfand her. Butoh! the Romans!
Fate comes too fast upon my wit
Hunts me too hardand meets me at each double. [Aside. Exit.
VENT. Would she had died a little soonerthough!
Before Octavia wentyou might have treated:
Now 'twill look tameand would not be received.
Comerouse yourselfand let's die warm together.
ANT. I will not fight: there's no more work for war.
The business of my angry hours is done.
VENT. Caesar is at your gates.
ANT. Whylet him enter;
He's welcome now.
VENT. What lethargy has crept into your soul?
ANT. 'Tis but a scorn of lifeand just desire
To free myself from bondage.
VENT. Do it bravely.
ANT. I will; but not by fighting. O Ventidius!
What should I fight for now?- my queen is dead.
I was but great for her; my powermy empire
Were but my merchandise to buy her love;
And conquered kingsmy factors. Now she's dead
Let Caesar take the world-
An empty circlesince the jewel's gone
Which made it worth my strife: my being's nauseous;
For all the bribes of life are gone away.
VENT. Would you be taken?
ANT. YesI would be taken;
Butas a Roman ought- deadmy Ventidius:
For I'll convey my soul from Caesar's reach
And lay down life myself. 'Tis time the world
Should have a lordand know whom to obey.
We two have kept its homage in suspense
And bent the globeon whose each side we trod
Till it was dented inwards. Let him walk
Alone upon't: I'm weary of my part.
My torch is out; and the world stands before me
Like a black desert at the approach of night:
I'll lay me downand stray no farther on.
VENT. I could be grieved
But that I'll not outlive you: choose your death;
ForI have seen him in such various shapes
I care not which I take: I'm only troubled
The life I bear is worn to such a rag
'Tis scarce worth giving. I could wishindeed
We threw it from us with a better grace;
Thatlike two lions taken in the toils
We might at last thrust out our pawsand wound
The hunters that inclose us.
ANT. I have thought on it.
Ventidiusyou must live.
VENT. I must notsir.
ANT. Wilt thou not liveto speak some good of me?
To stand by my fair fameand guard the approaches
From the ill tongues of men?
VENT. Who shall guard mine
For living after you?
ANT. SayI command it.
VENT. If we die wellour deaths will speak themselves
And need no living witness.
ANT. Thou hast loved me
And fain I would reward thee. I must die;
Kill meand take the merit of my death
To make thee friends with Caesar.
VENT. Thank your kindness.
You said I loved you; and in recompense
You bid me turn a traitor: Did I think
You would have used me thus?- that I should die
With a hard thought of you?
ANT. Forgive meRoman.
Since I have heard of Cleopatra's death
My reason bears no rule upon my tongue
But lets my thoughts break all at random out.
I've thought better; do not deny me twice.
VENT. By Heaven I will not.
Let it not be to outlive you.
ANT. Kill me first
And then die thou; for 'tis but just thou serve
Thy friend before thyself.
VENT. Give me your hand.
We soon shall meet again. Nowfarewellemperor!- [Embrace.
Methinks that word's too cold to be my last:
Since death sweeps all distinctionsfarewellfriend!
I will not make a business of a trifle;
And yet I cannot look on youand kill you;
Pray turn your face.
ANT. I do: strike homebe sure.
VENT. Home as my sword will reach. [Kills himself.
ANT. Ohthou mistak'st;
That wound was not of thine; give it me back;
Thou robb'st me of my death.
VENT. I do indeed;
But think 'tis the first time I e'er deceived you
If that may plead my pardon.- And yougods
Forgive meif you will; for I die perjured
Rather than kill my friend. [Dies.
ANT. Farewell! Ever my leadereven in death!
My queen and thou have got the start of me
And I'm the lag of honour.- Gone so soon?
Is Death no more? he used him carelessly
With a familiar kindness: ere he knocked
Ran to the doorand took him in his arms
As who should say- You're welcome at all hours
A friend need give no warning. Books had spoiled him;
For all the learned are cowards by profession.
'Tis not worth
My further thought; for deathfor aught I know
Is but to think no more. Here's to be satisfied.
[Falls on his sword.
I've missed my heart. O unperforming hand!
Thou never couldst have erred in a worse time.
My fortune jades me to the last; and death
Like a great mantakes stateand makes me wait
For my admittance.- [Trampling within.
If he should find me livingand suspect
That I played booty with my life! I'll mend
My workere they can reach me. [Rises upon his knees. -
Enter CLEOPATRACHARMIONand IRAS. -
CLEO. Where is my lord? where is he?
CHAR. There he lies
And dead Ventidius by him.
CLEO. My fears were prophets; I am come too late.
O that accursed Alexas! [Runs to him.
ANT. Art thou living?
Or am I dead before I knewand thou
The first kind ghost that meets me?
CLEO. Help me seat him.
Send quicklysend for help! [They place him in a chair.
ANT. I am answered.
We live both. Sit thee downmy Cleopatra:
I'll make the most I can of lifeto stay
A moment more with thee.
CLEO. How is it with you?
ANT. 'Tis as with a man
Removing in a hurry; all packed up
But one dear jewel that his haste forgot;
And hefor thatreturns upon the spur:
So I come back for thee.
CLEO. Too longye heavensyou have been cruel to me:
Now show your mended faithand give me back
His fleeting life!
ANT. It will not bemy love;
I keep my soul by force.
Say butthou art not false.
CLEO. 'Tis now too late
To say I'm true: I'll prove itand die with you.
Unknown to meAlexas feigned my death:
Whichwhen I knewI hasted to prevent
This fatal consequence. My fleet betrayed
Both you and me.
ANT. And Dolabella-
Esteemed before he loved; but hated now.
ANT. Enough: my life's not long enough for more.
Thou say'stthou wilt come after: I believe thee;
For I can now believe whate'er thou sayest
That we may part more kindly.
CLEO. I will come:
Doubt notmy lifeI'll comeand quickly too:
Caesar shall triumph o'er no part of thee.
ANT. But grieve notwhile thou stayest
My last disastrous times:
Think we have had a clear and glorious day
And Heaven did kindly to delay the storm
Just till our close of evening. Ten years' love
And not a moment lostbut all improved
To the utmost joys- what ages have we lived?
And now to die each other's; andso dying
While hand in hand we walk in groves below
Whole troops of lovers' ghosts shall flock about us
And all the train be ours.
CLEO. Your words are like the notes of dying swans
Too sweet to last. Were there so many hours
For your unkindnessand not one for love?
ANT. Nonot a minute.- This one kiss- more worth
Than all I leave to Caesar. [Dies.
CLEO. O tell me so again
And take ten thousand kisses for that word.
My lordmy lord! speakif you yet have being;
Sign to meif you cannot speak; or cast
One look! Do anything that shows you live.
IRAS. He's gone too far to hear you;
And this you seea lump of senseless clay
The leavings of a soul.
He charged you not to grieve.
CLEO. And I'll obey him.
I have not loved a Romannot to know
What should become his wife; his wifemy Charmion!
For 'tis to that high title I aspire;
And now I'll not die less. Let dull Octavia
Surviveto mourn him dead: My nobler fate
Shall knit our spousals with a tietoo strong
For Roman laws to break.
IRAS. Will you then die?
CLEO. Why shouldst thou make that question?
IRAS. Caesar is merciful.
CLEO. Let him be so
To those that want his mercy: My poor lord
Made no such covenant with himto spare me
When he was dead. Yield me to Caesar's pride?
What! to be led in triumph through the streets
A spectacle to base plebeian eyes;
While some dejected friend of Antony's
Close in a cornershakes his headand mutters
A secret curse on her who ruined him!
I'll none of that.
CHAR. Whatever you resolve
I'll followeven to death.
IRAS. I only feared
For you; but more should fear to live without you.
CLEO. Whynow'tis as it should be. Quickmy friends
Despatch; ere thisthe town's in Caesar's hands:
My lord looks down concernedand fears my stay
Lest I should be surprised;
Keep him not waiting for his love too long.
YouCharmionbring my crown and richest jewels;
With themthe wreath of victory I made
(Vain augury! ) for himwho now lies dead:
YouIrasbring the cure of all our ills.
IRAS. The aspicsmadam?
CLEO. Must I bid you twice? [Exit CHARMION and IRAS.
'Tis sweet to diewhen they would force life on me
To rush into the dark abode of death
And seize him first; if he be like my love
He is not frightfulsure.
We're now alonein secrecy and silence;
And is not this like lovers? I may kiss
These palecold lips; Octavia does not see me:
Andoh! 'tis better far to have him thus
Than see him in her arms.- Ohwelcomewelcome! -
Enter CHARMION and IRAS. -
CHAR. What must be done?
CLEO. Short ceremonyfriends;
But yet it must be decent. Firstthis laurel
Shall crown my hero's head: he fell not basely
Nor left his shield behind him.- Only thou
Couldst triumph o'er thyself; and thou alone
Wert worthy so to triumph.
CHAR. To what end
These ensigns of your pomp and royalty?
CLEO. Dullthat thou art! why 'tis to meet my love;
As when I saw him firston Cydnus' bank
All sparklinglike a goddess: so adorned
I'll find him once again; my second spousals
Shall match my first in glory. Hastehasteboth
And dress the bride of Antony.
CHAR. 'Tis done.
CLEO. Now seat me by my lord. I claim this place;
For I must conquer Caesar toolike him
And win my share of the world.- Hailyou dear relics
Of my immortal love!
O let no impious hand remove you hence:
But rest for ever here! Let Egypt give
His death that peacewhich it denied his life.-
Reach me the casket.
IRAS. Underneath the fruit
The aspic lies.
CLEO. Welcomethou kind deceiver! [Putting aside the leaves.
Thou best of thieves; whowith an easy key
Dost open lifeandunperceived by us
Even steal us from ourselves; discharging so
Death's dreadful officebetter than himself;
Touching our limbs so gently into slumber
That Death stands bydeceived by his own image
And thinks himself but sleep.
SERAP. The queenwhere is she? [Within.
The town is yieldedCaesar's at the gates.
CLEO. He comes too late to invade the rights of death.
Hastebare my armand rouse the serpent's fury.
[Holds out her armand draws it back.
Wouldst thou conspire with Caesar to betray me
As thou wert none of mine? I'll force thee to it
And not be sent by him
But bringmyselfmy soul to Antony.
[Turns asideand then shows her arm bloody.
Take hence; the work is done.
SERAP. Break ope the door[Within.
And guard the traitor well.
CHAR. The next is ours.
IRAS. NowCharmionto be worthy
Of our great queen and mistress. [They apply the aspics.
CLEO. AlreadydeathI feel thee in my veins:
I go with such a will to find my lord
That we shall quickly meet.
A heavy numbness creeps through every limb
And now 'tis at my head: My eyelids fall
And my dear love is vanquished in a mist.
Where shall I find himwhere? O turn me to him
And lay me on his breast!- Caesarthy worst;
Now part usif thou canst. [Dies.
[IRAS sinks down at her feetand dies; CHARMION stands
behind her chairas dressing her head. -
Enter SERAPIONtwo PriestsALEXAS boundEgyptians. -
What havoc death has made!
SERAP. 'Twas what I feared.-
Charmionis this well done?
CHAR. Yes'tis well doneand like a queenthe last
Of her great race: I follow her. [Sinks down: dies.
ALEX. 'Tis true
She has done well: Much better thus to die
Than live to make a holiday in Rome.
SERAP. See how the lovers sit in state together
As they were giving laws to half mankind!
The impression of a smileleft in her face
Shows she died pleased with him for whom she lived
And went to charm him in another world.
Caesar's just entering: grief has now no leisure.
Secure that villainas our pledge of safety
To grace the imperial triumph.- Sleepblest pair
Secure from human chancelong ages out
While all the storms of fate fly o'er your tomb;
And fame to late posterity shall tell
No lovers lived so greator died so well [Exeunt.
POETSlike disputantswhen reasons fail
Have one sure refuge left- and that's to rail.
Fopcoxcombfoolare thundered through the pit;
And this is all their equipage of wit.
We wonder how the devil this difference grows
Betwixt our fools in verseand yours in prose:
For'faiththe quarrel rightly understood
'Tis civil war with their own flesh and blood.
The threadbare author hates the gaudy coat;
And swears at the gilt coachbut swears afoot:
For 'tis observed of every scribbling man
He grows a fop as fast as e'er he can;
Prunes upand asks his oraclethe glass
If pink or purple best become his face.
For our poor wretchhe neither rails nor prays;
Nor likes your wit just as you like his plays;
He has not yet so much of Mr. Bayes.
He does his best; and if he cannot please
Would quietly sue out his writ of ease.
Yetif he might his own grand jury call
By the fair sex he begs to stand or fall.
Let Caesar's power the men's ambition move
But grace you him who lost the world for love!
Yet if some antiquated lady say
The last age is not copied in his play;
Heaven help the man who for that face must drudge
Which only has the wrinkles of a judge.
Let not the young and beauteous join with those;
For should you raise such numerous hosts of foes
Young wits and sparks he to his aid must call;
'Tis more than one man's work to please you all. - -