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ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE.
THIS play is supposed to have been written in the year 1608; and some of its incidents may have been borrowed from a production of Daniel's, called "The Tragedie of Cleopatra," which was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in the year 1593. It rapidly condenses the events of a considerable period, commencing with the triple partition of the empire at the death of Brutus, B. C. 41, and terminating with the final overthrow of the Ptolemean dynasty, B. C. 23. Its historical features are, upon the whole, accurately drawn and the sentiments of many of the characters are literally copied from Plutarch and other biographers.---An tony's illicit connection with Cleopatra, his brutal treatment of the amriable Octavia, and his absurd assumption of despotic power in bequeathing the Roman provinces to a degraded progeny, were the ostensible grounds of the rupture which ended in his death, and united the whole extent of Roman conquest under one imperial sceptre. The character of Cleopatra, the fascinating, dexterous, and incontinent Egyptian, abounds in poetical beauty; and the rough soldier's description of her passage down the Cydnus, has ever been considered a luxuriant specimen of glowing oriental description. But it is in the portrait of Antony that the dis criminating reader will chiefly discover the pencil of a master. It is a choice finish to the outline of his cha racter, as given in the play of Julius Cesar. He was then "a masker and a reveller," of comely person, lively wit, and iusinuating address :---but the fire of youth, and the dictates of ambition, restrained his licentious cravings within tolerable bounds. In the decline of life, and in the lap of voluptuousness, with wealth at his command, and monarchs at his footstool, we find him alternately playing the fool, the hero, or the barbarian, triding away the treasures of the East in sensuality and indolence, and destroying a noble army by cowardice and obstinacy. Still, the rays of inherent greatness occasionally gleam through a cloud of ignoble propensities, and glimmerings of Roman greatness partially reclaim a career of the most doting effeminacy. The philosophy of his mind, and the cool superiority of maturer years, are admirably pourtrayed in the first recriminatory scene with Octavius Cesar, who, notwithstanding the flattery of historians, "was deceitful, meanspirited, proud, and revengeful."---Dr. Johnson says: "This play keeps curiosity always busy, and the pas sions always interested. The continual hurry of the action, the variety of incidents, and the quick succession of one passage to another, call the mind forwards without intermission from the first act to the last. But the power of delighting is derived principally from the frequent changes of the scene; for, except the feminine arts (some of which are too low) which distinguish Cleopatra, no character is very strongly discrimi nated. Upton, who did not easily miss what he desired to find, has discovered that the language of Antony is, with great skill and learning, made pompous and superb, according to his real practice. But I think his diction not distinguishable from that of others: the most tumid speech in the play is that which Cesar makes to Antony."
Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart,
SCENE 1.-Alexandria.-A Room in CLEO- The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper;
Enter DEMETRIUS and PHILO.
And is become the bellows and the fan
Cleo. Perchance,-nay, and most like, You must not stay here longer, your dismission Is come from Cesar; therefore hear it, Antony. Where's Fulvia's process! Cesar's, I would say?-Both?
Call in the messengers.-As I am Egypt's queen, Thou blushest, Antony; and that blood of thine Is Cesar'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 :
Cleo. Excellent falsehold!
Why did he marry Fulvia, and not love her ?-
Ant. But stirr'd by Cleopatra.
Now, for the love of Love, and her soft hours, Let's not confound the time with conference
There's not a minute of our lives should stretch Without some pleasure now: What sport to
Cleo. Hear the ambassadors. Ant. Fie, wrangling queen! Whom every thing becomes, to chide, to laugh, To weep; whose every passion fully 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 CLEO. with their Train. Dem. Is Cesar with Antonius priz'd so slight? Phi. Sir, sometimes, when he is not Antony, He comes too short of that great property Which still should go with Antony.
Dem. I'm full sorry,
That he approves the common liar, ++ who
Eno. Bring in the banquet quickly; wine Cleopatra's health to drink. enough,
Char. Good Sir, give me good fortune.
Sooth. You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
Iras. No, you shall paint when you are old.
Alex. Vex not his prescience: be attentive.
Sooth. You shall be more beloving than beloved.
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 Cesar, and companion me with my mistress.
Sooth. You shall outlive the lady whom you
Char. O excellent! I love long life better than
Sooth. You have seen and proved a fairer former fortune
Than that which is to approach.
Char. Then, belike, my children shall have no names: Pr'ythee, how many boys and wenches must I have?
Sooth. If every of your wishes had a womb, And fertile every wish, a million.
Char. Out fool! I forgive thee for a witch. Alex. You think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.
Char. Nay, come, tell Iras her's.
Eno. Mine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall be-drunk to bed.
Iras. There's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.
Char. Even as the overflowing Nilus presageth famine.
Iras. Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
Char. Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful
Iras. But how, but how? give me particulars.
Iras. Am I not an inch of fortune better than she t
Char. Well, if you were but an inch of fortune better than I, where would you choose it? Iras. Not in my husband's nose.
Char. Our worser thoughts heavens mend! Alexas,-come, his fortune, his fortune.-Oh! let him marry a woman that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee! And let her die too, and give him a worse; and let worse follow worse, till the worst of all follow him laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a matter of more weight: good Isis, I beseech thee !
Iras. Amen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people! for, as it is a heart-breaking to see a handsome man loose-wived, so it is a deadly Therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded. him accordingly!
Vulgarly esteemed the fiercest and proudest monarch of antiquity. A common proverb. 1 Sh be bastards. An Egyptian godess.
There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it :
I must from this enchanting queen break off';
Eno. What's your pleasure, Sir? Ant. I must with haste from hence. Eno. Why, then, we k.d all our women: We see how mortal an unkindness is to them; if they suffer our departure, death's the word. Ant. I must be gone.
Eno. Under a compelling occasion, let women die: It were pity to cast them away for nothing: though, between them and a great cause, they should be esteemed nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of this, dies instantly: I have seen ber die twenty times upon far poorer moment: I do think there is mettle in death, which commits some loving act upon her, she hath such a celerity in dying.
Ant. She is cunning past man's thought.
Eno. Alack, Sir, no: her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love: we cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears; they are greater storins and tempests than almanacks can report: this cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.
Ant. 'Would I had never seen her !
Eno. O Sir, you had then left unseen a won
Mess. The nature of bad news infects the derful piece of work; which not to have been teiler.
blessed withal, would have discredited your
(This is stiff news) hath, with his Parthian force,
His conquering banner shook, from Syria
Ant. Antony, thou would'st say,-
Ant. Speak to me home; mince not the
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Ant. Fulvia is dead.
Eno. Why, Sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth; comforting therein, that when old robes are worn out, there are members to make new. If there were no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut, and the case ge-to be lamented: this grief is crowned with consolation-your old smock brings forth a new petticoat-and indeed the tears live in an onion, that should water this sorrow.
Name Cleopatra as she's call'd in Rome;
When our quick winds + lie still; and our ills told
Is as our earing. Fare thee well a while.
1 Att. The man from Sicyon.-Is there such a one?
2 Att. He stays upon your will. Ant. Let him appear,
These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Enter another MESSENGER.
Or lose myself in dotage.-What are you? 2 Mess. Fulvia thy wife is dead.
Ant Where died she?
2 Mess. In Sicyon :
Ant. The business she hath broached in the Cannot endure my absence.
Eno. And the business you have broached here cannot be without you; especially that of Cleopatra's, which wholly depends on your abode.
Ant. No more light answers. Let our officers
Her length of sickness, with what else more seri-The sides o'the world may danger: Much is Importeth thee to know, this bears.
Ant. Forbear me.
[ous [Gives a letter. [Exit MESSENGER.
By some read minds. Tilling, plowing; prepares us to produce good seed.