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give two, that cannot be mistaken. to Achilles,

Patroclus says

"Rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold, And like a dew-drop from the lion's mane,

Be shook to air."

Troilus, addressing the God of Day on the approach of the morning that parts him from Cressida, says with much scorn,

"What! proffer'st thou thy light here for to sell?
Go sell it them that smallé selés graven."

If nobody but Shakespear could have written the former, nobody but Chaucer would have thought of the latter.-Chaucer was the most literal of poets, as Richardson was of prose-writers.


THIS is a very noble play. Though not in the first class of Shakespear's productions, it stands next to them, and is, we think, the finest of his historical plays, that is, of those in which he made poetry the organ of history, and assumed a certain tone of character and sentiment, in conformity to known facts, instead of trusting to his observations of general nature or to the unlimited indulgence of his own fancy. What he has added to the actual story, is upon a par with it. His genius was, as it were, a match for history as well as nature, and could grapple at will with either. The play is full of that pervading comprehensive power by which the poet could always make himself master of time and circumstances. It presents a fine picture of Roman pride and Eastern magnificence: and in the struggle between the two, the empire of the world seems suspended, "like the swan's down-feather,

"That stands upon the swell at full of tide,
And neither way inclines."

The characters breathe, move, and live. Shakespear does not stand reasoning on what his characters would do or say, but at once becomes them, and speaks and acts for them. He does not present us with groups of stage-puppets of poetical machines. making set speeches on human life, and acting from a calculation of problematical motives, but he brings living men and women on the scene, who speak and act from real feelings, according to the ebbs and flows of passion, without the least tincture of pedantry of logic or rhetoric. Nothing is made out by inference

and analogy, by climax and antithesis, but every thing takes place just as it would have done in reality, according to the occasion.-The character of Cleopatra is a masterpiece. What an extreme contrast it affords to Imogen! One would think it almost impossible for the same person to have drawn both. She is voluptuous, ostentatious, conscious, boastful of her charms, haughty, tyrannical, fickle. The luxurious pomp and gorgeous extravagance of the Egyptian. queen are displayed in all their force and lustre, as well as the irregular grandeur of the soul of Mark Antony. Take only the first four lines that they speak as an example of the regal style of love-making.

"Cleopatra. If it be love indeed, tell me how much? Antony. There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd. Cleopatra. I'll set a bourn how far to be belov'd.

Antony. Then must thou needs find out new heav'n, new earth."

The rich and poetical description of her person beginning―

"The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne, Burnt on the water; the poop was beaten gold, Purple the sails, and so perfumed, that

The winds were love-sick".

seems to prepare the way for, and almost to justify the subsequent infatuation of Antony when in the sea-fight at Actium, he leaves the battle, and “like a doating mallard" follows her flying sails.

Few things in Shakespear (and we know of nothing in any other author like them) have more of that local truth of imagination and character than the passage in which Cleopatra is represented conjecturing what were the employments of Antony in his absence"He's speaking now, or murmuring-Where's my serpent of old Nile?" Or again, when she says to Antony, after the defeat at Actium, and his summoning up resolution to risk another fight-" It is my birth-day; I had thought to have held it poor; but since my lord is Antony again, I will be Cleopatra."

Perhaps the finest burst of all is Antony's rage after his final defeat when he comes in, and surprises the messenger of Cæsar kissing her hand

"To let a fellow that will take rewards,
And say God quit you, be familiar with,
My play-fellow, your hand; this kingly seal,
And plighter of high hearts."

It is no wonder that he orders him to be whipped; but his low condition is not the true reason: there is another feeling which lies deeper, though Antony's pride would not let him shew it, except by his rage; he suspects the fellow to be Cæsar's proxy.

Cleopatra's whole character is the triumph of the voluptuous, of the love of pleasure and the power of giving it, over every other consideration. Octavia is a dull foil to her, and Fulvia a shrew and shrilltongued. What a picture do those lines give of her

"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. Other women cloy

The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies."

What a spirit and fire in her conversation with Antony's messenger who brings her the unwelcome news of his marriage with Octavia! How all the pride of beauty and of high rank breaks out in her promised reward to him—

"There is gold, and here

My bluest veins to kiss !"

She had great and unpardonable faults, but the grandeur of her death almost redeems them. She learns from the depth of despair the strength of her affections. She keeps her queen-like state in the last disgrace, and her sense of the pleasurable in the last moments of her life. She tastes a luxury in death. After applying the asp, she says with fondness—

"Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?

As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle.
Oh Antony!"

It is worth while to observe that Shakespear has contrasted the extreme magnificence of the descriptions in this play with pictures of extreme suffering and physical horror, not less striking-partly perhaps to place the effeminate character of Mark Antony in a more favourable light, and at the same time to preserve a certain balance of feeling in the mind. Cæsar says, hearing of his rival's conduct at the court of Cleopatra,


Leave thy lascivious wassails. When thou once
Wert beaten from Modena, where thou slew'st
Hirtius and Pansa, consuls, at thy heel

Did famine follow, whom thou fought'st against,
Though daintily brought up, with patience more
Than savages could suffer. Thou did'st drink

The stale of horses, and the gilded puddle

Which beast would cough at. Thy palate then did deign
The roughest berry on the rudest hedge,

Yea, like the stag, when snow the pasture sheets,
The barks of trees thou browsed'st.

On the Alps,

It is reported, thou didst eat strange flesh,
Which some did die to look on: and all this,
It wounds thine honour, that I speak it now,
Was borne so like a soldier, that thy cheek
So much as lank'd not."

The passage after Antony's defeat by Augustus, where he is made to say

"Yes, yes; he 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".

is one of those fine retrospections which shew us the winding and eventful march of human life. The jealous attention which has been paid to the unities both of time and place has taken away the principle

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