Page images

Sweep your way clear at Rome. Nay, look not sad,
Nor make replies of loathness : take the hint
Which my despair proclaims : let that be left
Which leaves itself: go, and possess my treasure.
Leave me, I

pray, a little: pray you now :-
Nay, do so : for indeed I've lost command

E'en of myself.—I'll see you by and by. He throws himself on a seat in an attitude of despair: Eros, his constant and favourite servant, acquainted with his habits, brings in Cleopatra, who enters, supported by her attendants, Charmian and Iras: she stands at some distance : Antony does not yet see her, but continues to speak as to himself :

The boyish Cæsar at Philippi kept
His sword e'en like a dancer, while I struck
The lean and wrinkled Cassius : and 'twas I,
That the mad Brutus ended. He ne'er fought
But with a sword some braver soldier wielded :
Unpractis'd in the noble work of war,

He-yet now,—no matter!
[Eros.] See, my lord, the queen.
[Antony.) I have offended reputation ;

I've swerv'd most vilely from my former self. [Eros.] Most noble sir, arise; the queen approaches :

Her head's declin'd, and death will seize her, if

She cannot comfort you : behold, my lord. [Antony.] O, whither hast thou led me, Egypt? Where,

Where is the honour I have left behind,

Of all but thee forgetful ? [Cleopatra.] O my lord,

Forgive my fearful sails ! I little thought

You would have follow'd.
[Antony.] Egypt, thou knewst too well

My heart was to thy rudder tied by strings,
And thou wouldst tow me after : o'er my spirit

Thy full supremacy thou knewst, and that
Thy beck might, from the bidding of the gods,

Command me.
[Cleopatra.] Pardon, pardon !
[Antony.) Now I must,

I who have play'd with one half of the world,
Making and marring fortunes,-now must I
With the young man treat humbly, shift, and dodge.
You knew how much you were my conqueror,
And that my sword, made weak by' affection, would
Obey you,



[Cleopatra.] 0, pardon, pardon !
[Antony.] Drop not a tear, I say; one of them rates

All that is won and lost.; Give me a kiss :
Even this repays me.

I have sent a messenger,
My schoolmaster, to Cæsar; whose return
I do expect. Love, I am full of lead;
Some wine-within there, and our viands! Fortune,

We scorn thee and thy blows. An hour or two is passed in banqueting before the ambassador to Cæsar returns : other friends of Antony, and among

them Enobarbus, enter with the ambassador : Antony calls to the latter :

What is his answer ? [Ambassador.] To your request he has no ears. The queen

Shall not want favour from him, so she drive
You, her disgraced friend, from Egypt, or

Take your life from you, here. [Antony.) Do you hear that ?

To the boy Cæsar send this grizzled head,
And he will fill thy wishes to the brim

With principalities.
[Cleopatra.] That head, my lord ?
[Antony.) To him again: tell him, he wears the rose

of youth upon him, which the world requires

To be adorn'd by manhood ; that his coin,
His legions, and his ships, may be a coward's,
Which, in the service of a child, would conquer,
As well as under Cæsa'r. I dare him, therefore,
Ourselves alone, to meet me, sword to sword ;

Stay, I will write it : follow me within. During Antony's absence, Enobarbus is busy in observing those who remain, and in meditating on what occurs: he speaks as to himself : [Enobarbus.] Yes, like enough that the high-battled Cæsar

Will quit his state, and stage himself, to fight
Against a sworder: I do see men's judgements
Are varied by their fortunes: and things outward
Affect the inward faculties, that so
They suffer equally. That he should dream,-
Skill'd as he is in life,-full-fortun'd Cæsar
Will answer to his empti’ness! Cæsar has
Subdu'd his judgement too.—Who thus enters
With no more ceremony to the queen ?
She smooths her starting anger with a smile,
A preparation to receive, no doubt,
Some messenger from Cæsar. Ay, 'tis so.
Mine honesty and I begin to quarrel :
The loyalty held firmly to a fool
Makes faith a folly. Yet the man who keeps
Allegiance truly to a fallen lord,
Is greater than the conqueror of his lord,

And earns a place in story. He stands aside for a time while Cleopatra is conferring with Thyreus, the messenger from Cæsar : but quits his place before the conference is ended, to inform Antony of what is passing. Cleopatra rises from her seat : [Cleopatra.] Now, speak the will of Cæsar. [Thyreus.] Hear it apart. [Cleopatra.] There are none here but friends. [Thyreus.] So haply are they friends of Antony.

[ocr errors]


[Cleopatra.] They are my friends, and would be Cæsar's too,

If Cæsar were my friend. [Thyreus.] Renowned queen,

Then thus doth Cæsar speak : Cæsar entreats
That, while you weigh your present fortune, you
Do not forget that he is Cæsar: further,-
He knows that you embrace Mark Antony,
Not as you love him, but because you fear him.
The scars upon your honour, therefore, he
Regards with pity as constrain'd, and not

As blemishes deserv’d. [Cleopatra.] He is a god,

And knows the truth : mine honour was not yielded,

But conquer'd merely.
[Thyreus..] Shall I say to Cæsar

What you require of him ? fo'r he partly begs
To be desir’d to give. It much would please him
That of his fortunes you would make a staff
To lean upon; but it would warm his spirits
To hear from me you had left Antony,
And put yourself in shelter under him,

The universal landlord.
[Cleopatra.] What's your name?
[Thyreus.] My name is Thyreus.
[Cleopatra.] Most kind messenger,

Ŝay that I kiss great Cæsar's conquering hand;
Tell him that, at his feet, I lay my crown;
And, from his all-obeying breath, I wait

To hear the doom of Egypt. [Thyreus.] 'Tis


best course.
1 'll bear your message: give me grace to lay

My lips upon your hand.
[Cleopatra.] Your Cæsar's father

Oft hath bestow'd his lips there, as if kisses
Were rain’d on that unworthy place.


At this moment, Enobarbus brings in Antony, who speaks : [Antony.) Favours, by Jove that thunders!

What art thou, fellow ? [Thyreus.] One, that but performs

The bidding of the worthiest man to have

Command obey'd.
[Antony.) Ho, my attendants, there'

Ay, ay, you kite! what, ho!—now gods and devils !
Authority melts from me. Time has been

That kings would start upon my call, and cry
“ Your will.” Have you no ears ?

I'm Antony yet. -Here, take this Jack, -away with him, and whip him. A momentary interval in Antony's gust of passion, allows us to hear Enobarbus speaking to himself : [Enobarbus.] 'Tis better playing with a lion's whelp,

Than with an old one dying. [Antony.] Moon and stars !

Whip him!-Were twenty of the tributaries,
Ay, of the greatest that acknowledge Cæsar,
Found thus so saucy with the hand of --she here--
What is her name since she was Cleopatra ?-
Whip him, fellows, till, like a boy, he whine
For mercy; being whipp'd, bring him again;
The Jack shall bear a message to his master.
Have I my pillow left unpress'd in Rome,
Forborne à lawful race, a gem of women,
To be abus’d by one, half-blasted ere
I knew her-one that deals her smiles to menials

That wait at table-
(Cleopatra.) Good my lord, nay hear me:

Do not believe-
[Antony.) You've been a stumbler ever;

But when we in our viciousness grow hard,
O misery!—the wise gods seal our eyes,
Prevent our judgement of the filth we live in,
And, mocking, make us to adore our errors.


« PreviousContinue »