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Extemporally will stage us, and present
Iras. O the good gods!
Iras. I'll never see it; for I am sure my nails Are stronger than mine eyes.
Cleo. Why, that's the way To fool their preparation, and to conquer Their most absurd intents.- Now Charmian?
Enter CHARMIAN. Shew me, my women, like a queen: go fetch My best attires: I am again for Cydnus, To meet Marc Antony.-Sirrah Iras, go.Now, noble Charmian, we 'll despatch indeed: And, when thou hast done this chare, I'll give
thee leave To play till doomsday.—Bring our crown and all.
[Exit Tras.— A noise within. Wherefore 's this noise ?
Enter one of the Guard. Guard. Here is a rural fellow That will not be denied your highness' presence: He brings you figs. Cleo. Let him come in. [Ecit Guard).—How
poor an instrument May do a noble deed! he brings me liberty. My resolution 's placed, and I have nothing Of woman in me. Now from head to foc I am marble-constant: now the fleeting moon No planet is of mine. Re-enter Guard, with a Clown bringing a basket.
Guard. This is the man.
Cleo. Avoid, and leave him.- [Exit Guard. Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there, That kills and pains not?
Clown. Truly I have him : but I would not be the party that should desire you to touch him, for his biting is immortal : those that do die of it, do seldom or never recover.
Cleo. Remember'st thou any that have died
Cleo. Get thee hence : farewell.
Clown. You must think this, look you, that the worm will do his kind.
Cleo. Ay, ay: farewell.
Clown. Look you, the worm is not to be trusted but in the keeping of wise people : for indeed there is no goodness in the worm.
Cleo. Take thou no care: it shall be heeded.
Clown. Very good: give it nothing, I pray you; for it is not worth the feeding.
Cleo. Will it eat me?
Clown. You must not think I am so simple but I know the devil himself will not eat a
I know that a woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her not: but truly these same whoreson devils do the gods great harm in their women; for in every ten that they make, the devils mar five.
Cleo. Well, get thee gone: farewell.
(Exit. Re-enter Iras, with a robe, crown, &c. Cleo. Give me my robe ; put on my crown. I
have Immortal longings in me: now no more The juice of Egypt's grape shall moist this lip.Yare, yare, good Iras; quick.—Methinks I hear Antony call : I see him rouse himself To praise my noble act: I hear him mock The luck of Cæsar, which the gods give men To excuse their after-wrath.—Husband, I come: Now to that name my courage prove my title ! I am fire and air; my other elements I give to baser life.—So; have you done ? Come, then, and take the last warmth of my lips. Farewell, kind Charmian :- Iras, long farewell.
[Kisses them. Iras falls and dies. Have I the aspick in my lips? Dost fall? If thou and nature can so gently part, The stroke of death is as a lover's pinch, Which hurts and is desired. Dost thou lie still? If thus thou vanishest, thou tell'st the world It is not worth leave-taking. Char. Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain : that I
may say, The gods themselves do weep!
Cleo. This proves me base : If she first meet the curléd Antony,' He'll make demand of her; and spend that kiss Which is my heaven to have.-Come, thou mortal
wretch, [To the asp, which she applies to her breast. With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate Of life at once untie : poor venomous fool,
Clown. Very many, men and women too. I heard of one of them no longer than yesterday : a very honest woman, but something given to lie, as a woman should not do but in the
of honesty: how she died of the biting of it, what vain she felt;-truly she makes a very good report o' the worm : but he that will believe all that they say, shall never be saved by half that they do. But this is most fallible, -the worm's an odd worm.
Cleo. Assweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle, - O Antony !-Nay, I will take thee too :
[ Applying another asp to her arm. What should I stay- [Falls on a bed, and dies.
Char. In this wild world?-So, fare thee well. Now boast thee, death! in thy possession lies A lass unparalleled.—Downy windows, close; And golden Phæbus never be beheld Of eyes again so royal !—Your crown 's awry: I'll mend it, and then play.
Enter the Guard, rushing in. - 1st Guard. Where is the queen? Char. Speak softly; wake her not. 1st Guard. Cæsar hath sent
Char. Too slow a messenger. [Applies the asp. O come! apace, despatch! I partly feel thee. 1st Guard. Approach, ho! all's not well.
Cæsar's beguiled. 2nd Guard. There's Dolabella sent from Cæ
sar:-call him. 1st Guard. What work is here ?—Charmian,
is this well done? Char. It is well done, and fitting for a princess Descended of so many royal kings. Ah, soldier!
Enter DOLABELLA. Dol. How goes it here? 2nd Guard. All dead.
Dol. Cæsar, thy thoughts Touch their effects in this. Thyself art coming To see performed the dreaded act which thou So sought'st to hinder. Within.
A way there; a way for Cæsar!
Enter Cæsar and Attendants. Dol. O sir, you are too sure an augurer : That you did fear is done.
Cæs. Bravest at the last! She levelled at our purposes, and, being royal, Took her own way. The manner of their deaths? I do not see them bleed.
Dol. Who was last with them? 1st Guard. A simple countryman, that brought
If they had swallowed poison, 't would appear
Dol. Here on her breast
fig-leaves Have slime upon them, such as the aspick leaves Upon the caves of Nile.
Cæs. Most probable That she died; for her physician tells me She hath pursued conclusions infinite Of easy ways to die.—Take up her bed, And bear her women from the monument. She shall be buried by her Antony: No grave upon the earth shall clip in it A pair so famous.-High events as these Strike those that make them; and their story is No less in pity than his glory which Brought them to be lamented. Our army shall, In solemn show, attend this funeral; And then to Rome.-Come, Dolabella, see High order in this great solemnity. Exerint.
This was his basket.
Cæs. Poisonel, then. 1st Guard.
O Cæsar, This Charmian lived but now; she stood and
spake. I found her trimming up the diadem On her dead mistress : tremblingly she stood, And on the sudden dropped.
Cæs. O noble weakness!
“Look, pr'y thee, Charmian, How this Herculean Roman does become
The carriage of his chase."-dct I., Scene 3. Antony professed to trace his descent from Anton, a son of Hercules.
“His cocks do win the battle still of mine
When it is all to nought; and his quails ever
" When thou once W'ast beaten from Modena (where thou slew'st Hirlius and Pansa, consuls), at thy heel Did famine follow."-Act I., Scene 4.
Shakspere derived this from Plutarch. The ancients used to match quails as we match cocks. Julius Pollox relates that a circle was made in which the birds were placed, and he whose quail was first driven out of the circle lost the stake. We are told by Mr. Marsden that the Sumatrans practise these quail combats. The Chinese have always been extremely fond of quail fighting. Mr. Douce has given a print, from an elegant Chinese miniature painting, which represents some ladies engaged at this amusement, where the quails are actually inhooped.--SINGER.
Inhooped, means inclosed or confined, that they may be compelled to fight.
Cicero, on the other side, being the chiefest man of authority and estimation in the city, he stirred up all men against Antonius; so that in the end he made the Senate pronounce him an enemy to his country, and appointed young Cæsar sergeants to carry axes before him, and such other signs as were incident to the dignity of a consul or prætor; and moreover sent Hirtius and Pansa, then consuls, to drive Antonius out of Italy. These two consuls, together with Cæsar, who also had an army, went against Antonius, that besieged the city of Modena, and there overthrew him in battle; but both the consuls were slain there.
Antonius, flying upon this overthrow, fell into great misery all at once; but the chiefest want of all other, and that which pinched him most, was famine. Howbeit he was of such a strong nature, that by patience he would overcome any adversity; and the heavier fortune lay upon him, the more constant shewed he himself.
Every man that feeleth want or adversity, knoweth by virtue and discretion what he should do: but when indeed they are overlaid with extremity, and be sore oppressed, few have the hearts to follow that which they praise and commend, and much less to avoid that they reprove and mislike; but rather to the contrary, they yield to their accustomed easy life, and through faint heart and lack of
“ Thry are his shards, and he their beetle."
Act III., Scene 2. This is spoken of Lepidus. The meaning is that Antony and Octavius are the wings that raise this heavy lumpish insect from the ground. In “MACBETI" we find mention of the "shard-borne beetle."
"Exo. Will Cæsar weep?
Act III., Scene 2. A horse is said to have a cloud in his face when he has a black or dark-coloured spot in his forehead between his eyes. This gives him a sour look, and, being supposed to indicate an ill temper, is of course regarded as a great blemish.-STEEVENS.
" He at Philippi kept His sword even like a dancer."-Act III, Scene 9. That is, he kept his weapon in the scabbard, like one who dances with a sword, which appears from various passages to have been the custom in Shakspere's time.
This is without doubt one of the finest pieces of poetry in Shakspere. The splendour of the imagery, the semblance of reality, the lofty range of picturesque objects hanging over the world, their evanescent nature, the total uncertainty of what is left behind, --are just like the mouldering schemes of human greatness.-HAZLITT.
I'T was I That the mad Brulus ended."-Act III., Scene 9. Nothing can be more in character, than for an infamous debauched tyrant to call the heroic love of one's country and public liberty, “madness."- WARBURTON.
“ The miserable change nou al my end
Lament nor sorrow at."- Act IV., Scene 13. As for himself, she should not lament nor sorrow for the miserable change of his fortune at the end of his days; but rather that she should think him the more fortunate for the former triumphs and honours he had received ; consiwering that while he lived he was the noblest and greatı st prince of the world, and that now he was overcome not cu wardly, but valiantly; a Roman by another Roman.-PLUTARCH.
“I was of late as pelty to his ends
As is the morn-dew on the myrlle-leaf
To his grand sea."-Act III., Scene 10. The term “his grand sea" has been supposed by Steevens to be the sea from which the dew-drop was thought to be exhaled.—"The grand sea" and "this grand sea" have both been plausibly proposed as substitutes for the received text, in which there is probably some corruption,
“ 1st Sol. Peace, I say. What should this mean?
2nd Sol. 'T is the god Hercules, whom Antony loved, Now leaves him."-Act IV., Scene 3.
Furthermore, the self-same night, within a little of midnight, when all the city was quiet, full of fear and sorrow, thinking what would be the end and issue of this war, it is said that suddenly they heard a marvellous sweet harmony of sundry sorts of instruments of music, with the cry of a multitude of people, as they had been dancing, and had sung as they had been used in Bacchus' feasts, with movings and turnings, after the manner of the satyrs : and it seemed that this dance went through the city unto the gate that opened to the enemies, and that all the troop that made this noise they heard went out of the city at that gate. Now, such as in reason sought the depth of the interpretation of this wonder, thought that it was the god unto whom Antonius bare singular devotion, to counterfeit and resemble him, that did forsake them.-PLUTARCH.
" Wherefore is that ? and what art thou that dar'st
Appear thus to us ?"-Act V., Scene 1. After Antonius had thrust his sword into himself, as they carried him into the tombs and monuments of Cleopatra, one of his guard, called Dercetæus, took his sword with which he had stricken himself, and hid it: then he secretly stole away, and brought Octavius Cæsar the first news of his death, and shewed him his sword that was bloodied.
Cæsar, hearing these news, straight withdrew himself into a secret place of his tent, and there burst out with tears, lamenting his hard and miserable fortune that had been his friend and brother-in-law, his equal in the empire, and companion with him in sundry great exploits and battles. Then he called for all his friends, and shewed them the letters Antonius had written to him, and his answers also sent him again, during the quarrel and strife, and how fiercely and proudly the other answered him, to all just and reasonable matters he wrote unto him.
After this, he sent Proculeius, and commanded him to do what he could possible to get Cleopatra alive, fearing lest otherwise all the treasure would be lost: and furthermore, he thought that if he could take Cleopatra, and bring her alive to Rome, she would marvellously beautify and set out his triumph.-PLUTARCH.
“How wouldst thou have paid My better service, when my turpitude Thou dost so crown with gold! This blows my heart."
Act IV., Scene 6. The word “ blows" is here used in the sense of "swells." As in the last scene of this play :
-"On her breast There is a vent of blood, and something blown." And in “ KING LEAR:"
"No blown ambition doth our arms excite."
“ Alexandria. A Room in the Monument."
Act V., Scene 2. In this scene, as in one of “King HENRY VIII.," the outside and inside of a building are exhibited at the same time. The old dramatists were enabled to cope with a difficulty of this kind by the aid of the inner or secondary stage, which was also used in “HAMLET," " OTHELLO," &c., and was a constant accompaniment to the principal one.
" To this great fairy I'll commend thy acts;
Make her thanks bless thee."- Act IV., Scene 8. The term fairy in former times was applied not only to imaginary diminutive beings, but also occasionally to witches and enchanters ; in which last sense it is used in the text.
" Realms and islands were As plates dropped from his pocket."-Act V:, Scene 2.
The term "plates” was applied to some kind of silver money. As in Marlowe's " Jew OF MALTA:"
* Ratest thou this Moor but at two hundred plates?" They are supposed to have been round pieces without stamp or impress, and were probably of fluctuating value.
"0, he is more mad
That is, than Ajax Telamon for the armour of Achilles, the most valuable part of which was the shield.
“ Thou hast seen these signs? They are black vesper's pageants."-Act IV., Scene 12.
The beauty both of the expression and the allusion is lost, unless we recollect the frequency and the nature of these shows in Shakspere's age.--WARton.
Of all Shakspere's historical plays, "ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA” is by far the most wonderful.-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."-COLERIDGE.