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WE are without any record that "Antony and Cleopatra" was ever performed; and when in Act v. sc. 2, the heroine anticipates that "some squeaking Cleopatra" will "boy her greatness on the stage, Shakespeare seems to hint that no young male performer would be able to sustain the part without exciting ridicule. However, the same remark will, more or less, apply to many of his other female characters; and the wonder, of course, is, how so much delicacy, tenderness, and beauty could be infused into parts which the poet knew must be represented by beardless and crack-voiced boys.

The period of the year at which "Antony and Cleopatra " was entered on the Stationers' Registers might lead to the inference, that, having been written late in 1607, it was brought out at the Globe in the spring of 1608, and that Edward Blunt (one of the publishers of the folio of 1623) thus put in his claim to the publication of the tragedy, if he could procure a manuscript of it. The memorandum bears date on the 20th May, 1608, and the piece is stated to be "a book" called "Anthony and Cleopatra." Perhaps Blunt was unable to obtain a copy of it, and, as far as we now know, it was printed for the first time in the folio of 1628.

It does not appear that there was any preceding drama on the story, with the exception of the "Cleopatra" of Samuel Daniel, originally published in 1594, to which Shakespeare was clearly under no obligation. Any slight resemblance between the two is to be accounted for by the fact, that both poets resorted to the same authority for their materials-Plutarch-whose "Lives" had been translated by Sir T. North in 1579. The minuteness with which Shakespeare adhered to history is more remarkable in this drama than in any other; and sometimes the most trifling circumstances are artfully, but still most naturally, interwoven. Shakespeare's use of history in "Antony and Cleopatra" may be contrasted with Ben Jonson's subjection to it in Sejanus."

"Of all Shakespeare's historical plays (says Coleridge) Antony and Cleopatra' is by far the most wonderful. There is not one in which he has followed history so minutely, and yet there are few in which he impresses the notion of angelic strength so much-perhaps none in which he impresses it more strongly. This is greatly owing to the manner in which the fiery force is sustained throughout, and to the numerous momentary flashes of nature, counteracting the historic abstraction." (Lit. Rem. vol. ii. p. 143.)

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TAURUS, Lieutenant-General to Cæsar.

CANIDIUS, Lieutenant-General to Antony.

SILIUS, an Officer under Ventidius.

EUPHRONIUS, Ambassador from Antony to Cæsar.
Attendants on Cleopatra. A Soothsayer.

CLEOPATRA, Queen of Egypt.

OCTAVIA, Sister to Cæsar, and Wife to Antony.


Attendants on Cleopatra.

Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.

SCENE, in several Parts of the Roman Empire.


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SCENE I.-Alexandria. A Room in CLEOPATRA'S

Enter DEMETRIUS and Philo.
Phi. 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 glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn
The office and devotion of their view
Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart,
Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst
The buckles on his breast, reneges' all temper,
And is become the bellows, and the fan,
To cool a gipsy's lust. Look, where they come.
Flourish. Enter Antony and CLEOPATRA, with their

Trains ; Eunuchs fanning her.
Take but good note, and you shall see in him
The triple pillar of the world transform'd
Into a strumpet's fool : behold and see.

Cleo. If it be love indeed, tell me how much.
Ant. There's beggary in the love that can be

reckon'd. Cleo. I'll set a bourn how far to be belov'd. Ant. Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

Enter an Attendant.
Att. News, my good lord, from Rome.

Grates me :—the sum.
Cle. Nay, hear them, Antony :
Fulvia, perchance, is angry; or, who knows
If the scarce-bearded Cæsar have not sent

1 Denies.

His powerful mandate to you, “Do this, or this;
Take in that kingdom, and enfranchise that ;
Perform ’t, or else we doom' thee."

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, Thou blushest, Antony, and that blood of thine Is Cæsar's homager; else so thy cheek pays shame, When shrill-tongu'd Fulvia scolds.—The messengers !

Ant. Let Rome in Tyber melt, and the wide arch
Of the rang'd 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.
And such a twain can do?t, in which I bind,
On pain of punishment, the world to weet,"
We stand up peerless.

Excellent falsehood !
Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her ?-
I'll seem the fool I am not; Antony
Will be himself.

But stirr'd by Cleopatra.-
Now, for the love of Love, and her soft hours,
Let's not confound the time with conference harsh
There's not a minute of our lives should stretch
Without some pleasure now. What sport to-night?

Cleo. Hear the ambassadors.

Fie, wrangling queen!
Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh,
To weep; whose every fashion fitlys strives
To make itself, in thee, fair and admir'd.
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 CLEOP. with their Train. Dem. Is Cæsar with Antonius priz'd so slight?

Phi. Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property

2 Know. 3 fully: in f. e.

1 damn: in f. e.


Which still should go with Antony.


I am full sorry,

That he approves the common liar, who

Thus speaks of him at Rome; but I will hope
Of better deeds to-morrow. Rest you happy. [Exeunt.

SCENE II.-The Same. Another Room.

Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer. Char: Lord Alexas, most 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 !

Alex. Soothsayer!

Sooth. Your will?

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.

Char. He means, in flesh.

Iras. No, you shall paint when you are old.

Char. Wrinkles forbid !

Alex. Vex not his prescience; be attentive.

Char. Hush!

Sooth. You shall be more beloving, than belov'd.
Char. I had rather heat my liver with drinking.
Alex. Nay, hear him.

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 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. 1 change in folios.

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