« PreviousContinue »
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
SCENE I. Alexandria. A Room in Cleopatra's Palace.
Enter DEMETRIUS and PHILO.
Philo. NAY, but this dotage of our general's O'erflows the measure. Those his goodly eyes, That o'er the files and musters of the war
Have glowed like plated Mars, now bend, now turn,
Flourish. Enter ANTONY and CLEOPATRA, with their Trains; Eunuchs fanning her.
Take but good note, and you shall see in him
Cleo. If it be love indeed, tell me how much.
1 i. e. renounces. The metre would be improved by reading reneyes, or reneies, a word used by Chaucer and other of our elder writers: but we have in King Lear, renege, affirm, &c.
2 Triple is here used for third, or one of three; one of the triumvirs.
Ant. There's beggary in the love that can be reckoned.
Cleo. I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved. Ant. Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.
Enter an Attendant.
Att. News, my good lord, from Rome.
Cleo. Nay, hear them,2 Antony.
Ant. How, my love!
Cleo. Perchance,-nay, and most like, You must not stay here longer, your dismission Is come from Cæsar; therefore hear it, Antony.Where's Fulvia's process? Cæsar's, I would say?Both ?
Call in the messengers.-As I am Egypt's queen,
Ant. Let Rome in Tyber melt! and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space; Kingdoms are clay; our dungy earth alike Feeds beast as man; the nobleness of life
Is, to do thus; when such a mutual pair, [Embracing.
1 "Be brief; sum thy business in a few words."
2 i. e. news was considered plural.
3 Take in, it has before been observed, signifies subdue, conquer.
4 Process here means summons.
5 The ranged empire is the well-arranged, well-ordered empire. 6 To weet is to know.
Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her?—
But stirred by Cleopatra.-
Ant. Fie, wrangling queen! Whom every thing becomes; to chide, to laugh, To weep; whose every passion fully strives To make itself, in thee, fair and admired! No messenger; but thine and all alone, To-night, we'll wander through the streets, and note The qualities of people. Come, my queen; Last night you did desire it.—Speak not to us.
[Exeunt ANT. and CLEO., with their Train. Dem. Is Cæsar with Antonius prized so slight? Phi. Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property Which still should go with Antony.
I'm full sorry,
That he approves the common liar,5 who
1 "But stirred by Cleopatra," i. e. "Add, if moved to it by Cleopatra." This is a compliment to her.
2 That is, for the sake of the queen of love."
3 The folio reads, who, every, &c.; corrected by Rowe.
4 "Sometime also when he would goe up and down the city disguised like a slave in the night, and would peere into poor mens windows and their shops, and scold and brawl with them within the house; Cleopatra would be also in a chambermaid's array, and amble up and down the streets with him."-Life of Antonius in North's Plutarch.
5 "That he proves the common liar, Fame, in his case, to be a true reporter."
SCENE II. The same. Another Room.
Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer.
Char. Lord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas, almost most absolute Alexas, where's the soothsayer that you praised so to the queen? O that I knew this husband, which, you say, must charge his horns with garlands! 1
Char. Is this the man?-Is't you, sir, that know things?
Sooth. In nature's infinite book of secrecy,
A little I can read.
Show him your hand.
Eno. Bring in the banquet quickly; wine enough, Cleopatra's health to drink.
Char. Good sir, give me good fortune.
Sooth. I make not, but foresee.
Char. Pray then, foresee me one.
Sooth. You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
Iras. No, you shall paint when you are old.
Alex. Vex not his prescience; be attentive.
Sooth. You shall be more beloving, than beloved.
Char. Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all; let me have a child at fifty, to whom
1 The old copy reads, "change his horns," &c. change for charge is also found in Coriolanus.
A similar error of
Herod of Jewry may do homage: find me to marry me with Octavius Cæsar, and companion me with my mistress.
Sooth. You shall outlive the lady whom you serve. Char. O excellent! I love long life better than figs. Sooth. You have seen and proved a fairer former fortune
Than that which is to approach.
Char. Then, belike, my children shall have no names.2 Pr'ythee, how many boys and wenches must I have?
Sooth. If every of your wishes had a womb, And fertile 3 every wish, a million.
Char. Out, fool; I forgive thee for a witch.1
Alex. You think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.
Char. Nay, come, tell Iras hers.
Alex. We'll know all our fortunes.
Eno. Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be drunk to bed.
Iras. There's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.
Char. Even as the o'erflowing Nilus presageth famine.
Iras. Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay. Char. Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear.-Pr'ythee, tell her but a worky-day fortune.
Sooth. Your fortunes are alike.
Iras. But how, but how? give me particulars.
Iras. Am I not an inch of fortune better than she? Char. Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where would you choose it?
1 Herod of Jewry was a favorite character in the mysteries of the old stage, and there he was always represented a fierce, haughty, blustering tyrant.
2 That is, prove bastards.
3 The old copy reads foretell. Warburton made the emendation.
4 This has allusion to the common proverbial saying, "You'll never be burnt for a witch."