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Oct. According to his virtue let us use him, With all respect and rites of burial. Within my tent his bones to-night shall lie, Most like a soldier, order'd honourably.So call the field to rest : and let 's away, To part the glories of this happy day. [Exeunt.
"The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra' was first printed in the folio collection of 1623. The play is not divided into acts and scenes in the original; but the stage-directions, like those of the other Roman plays, are very full. The text is, upon the whole, remarkably accurate; although the metrical arrangement is, in a few instances, obviously defective.
The Life of Antonius, in North's " Plutarch,' has been followed by Shakspere with very remarkable fidelity; and there is scarcely an incident which belongs to this period of Antony's career which the poet has not engrafted upon his wonderful performance. The poetical power, subjecting the historical minutebess to an all-pervading harmony, is one of the most remarkable efforts of Shakspere's genius.
“ Of all Shakspere's historical plays," says Coleridge, Antony and Cleopatra is by far the most wonderful.” He again says, assigning it a place even higher than that of being the most wonderful of the historical plays, “ The highest praise, or rather form of praise, of this play, which I can offer in my own mind, is the doubt
which the perusal always occasions in me, whether the Antony and Cleopatra is not, in all exhibitions of a giant power in its strength and vigour of maturity, a formidable rival of Macbeth, Lear, Hamlet, and Othello." The epithet “wonderful" is unquestionably the right one to apply to this drama. It is too vast, too gorgeous, to be approached without some prostration of the understanding. It pours such a flood of noonday splendour upon our senses, that we cannot gaze upon it steadily. We have read it again and again; and the impression which it leaves again and again is that of wonder.
The ANTONY of this play is of course the Antony of Julius Cæsar ;--not merely the historical Antony, but the dramatic Antony, drawn by the same hand. He is the orator that showed dead Cæsar's mantle to the Roman people; he is the soldier that after his triumph over Brutus said, “ This was a man.” We have seen something of his character; we have learnt a little of his voluptuousness; we have heard of the "masker and the reveller ;" we have beheld the unscrupulous politician. But we cannot think meanly of him. He is one great, either for good or for evil. Since he fought at Philippi he has passed through various fortunes. Cæsar thus apostrophises him :
" When thou once