All For Love
Part 2 out of 3
To say it was designed: 'tis true, I loved you,
And kept you far from an uneasy wife,--
Such Fulvia was.
Yes, but he'll say, you left Octavia for me;--
And, can you blame me to receive that love,
Which quitted such desert, for worthless me?
How often have I wished some other Caesar,
Great as the first, and as the second young,
Would court my love, to be refused for you!
VENTIDIUS. Words, words; but Actium, sir; remember Actium.
CLEOPATRA. Even there, I dare his malice. True, I counselled
To fight at sea; but I betrayed you not.
I fled, but not to the enemy. 'Twas fear;
Would I had been a man, not to have feared!
For none would then have envied me your friendship,
Who envy me your love.
ANTONY. We are both unhappy:
If nothing else, yet our ill fortune parts us.
Speak; would you have me perish by my stay?
CLEOPATRA. If, as a friend, you ask my judgment, go;
If, as a lover, stay. If you must perish--
'Tis a hard word--but stay.
VENTIDIUS. See now the effects of her so boasted love!
She strives to drag you down to ruin with her;
But, could she 'scape without you, oh, how soon
Would she let go her hold, and haste to shore,
And never look behind!
CLEOPATRA. Then judge my love by this.
[Giving ANTONY a writing.]
Could I have borne
A life or death, a happiness or woe,
>From yours divided, this had given me means.
ANTONY. By Hercules, the writing of Octavius!
I know it well: 'tis that proscribing hand,
Young as it was, that led the way to mine,
And left me but the second place in murder.--
See, see, Ventidius! here he offers Egypt,
And joins all Syria to it, as a present;
So, in requital, she forsake my fortunes,
And join her arms with his.
CLEOPATRA. And yet you leave me!
You leave me, Antony; and yet I love you,
Indeed I do: I have refused a kingdom;
That is a trifle;
For I could part with life, with anything,
But only you. Oh, let me die but with you!
Is that a hard request?
ANTONY. Next living with you,
'Tis all that Heaven can give.
ALEXAS. He melts; we conquer.
CLEOPATRA. No; you shall go: your interest calls you hence;
Yes; your dear interest pulls too strong, for these
Weak arms to hold you here.
[Takes his hand.]
Go; leave me, soldier
(For you're no more a lover): leave me dying:
Push me, all pale and panting, from your bosom,
And, when your march begins, let one run after,
Breathless almost for joy, and cry--She's dead.
The soldiers shout; you then, perhaps, may sigh,
And muster all your Roman gravity:
Ventidius chides; and straight your brow clears up,
As I had never been.
ANTONY. Gods, 'tis too much; too much for man to bear.
CLEOPATRA. What is't for me then,
A weak, forsaken woman, and a lover?--
Here let me breathe my last: envy me not
This minute in your arms: I'll die apace,
As fast as e'er I can, and end your trouble.
ANTONY. Die! rather let me perish; loosened nature
Leap from its hinges, sink the props of heaven,
And fall the skies, to crush the nether world!
My eyes, my soul, my all!
VENTIDIUS. And what's this toy,
In balance with your fortune, honour, fame?
ANTONY. What is't, Ventidius?--it outweighs them all;
Why, we have more than conquered Caesar now:
My queen's not only innocent, but loves me.
This, this is she, who drags me down to ruin!
"But, could she 'scape without me, with what haste
Would she let slip her hold, and make to shore,
And never look behind!"
Down on thy knees, blasphemer as thou art,
And ask forgiveness of wronged innocence.
VENTIDIUS. I'll rather die, than take it. Will you go?
ANTONY. Go! whither? Go from all that's excellent?
Faith, honour, virtue, all good things forbid,
That I should go from her, who sets my love
Above the price of kingdoms! Give, you gods,
Give to your boy, your Caesar,
This rattle of a globe to play withal,
This gewgaw world, and put him cheaply off:
I'll not be pleased with less than Cleopatra.
CLEOPATRA. She's wholly yours. My heart's so full of joy,
That I shall do some wild extravagance
Of love, in public; and the foolish world,
Which knows not tenderness, will think me mad.
VENTIDIUS. O women! women! women! all the gods
Have not such power of doing good to man,
As you of doing harm.
ANTONY. Our men are armed:--
Unbar the gate that looks to Caesar's camp:
I would revenge the treachery he meant me;
And long security makes conquest easy.
I'm eager to return before I go;
For, all the pleasures I have known beat thick
On my remembrance.--How I long for night!
That both the sweets of mutual love may try,
And triumph once o'er Caesar ere we die.
At one door enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMION, IRAS, and ALEXAS,
a Train of EGYPTIANS: at the other ANTONY and ROMANS.
The entrance on both sides is prepared by music; the
trumpets first sounding on Antony's part: then answered
by timbrels, etc., on CLEOPATRA'S. CHARMION and IRAS
hold a laurel wreath betwixt them. A Dance of EGYPTIANS.
After the ceremony, CLEOPATRA crowns ANTONY.
ANTONY. I thought how those white arms would fold me in,
And strain me close, and melt me into love;
So pleased with that sweet image, I sprung forwards,
And added all my strength to every blow.
CLEOPATRA. Come to me, come, my soldier, to my arms!
You've been too long away from my embraces;
But, when I have you fast, and all my own,
With broken murmurs, and with amorous sighs,
I'll say, you were unkind, and punish you,
And mark you red with many an eager kiss.
ANTONY. My brighter Venus!
CLEOPATRA. O my greater Mars!
ANTONY. Thou join'st us well, my love!
Suppose me come from the Phlegraean plains,
Where gasping giants lay, cleft by my sword,
And mountain-tops paired off each other blow,
To bury those I slew. Receive me, goddess!
Let Caesar spread his subtle nets; like Vulcan,
In thy embraces I would be beheld
By heaven and earth at once;
And make their envy what they meant their sport
Let those, who took us, blush; I would love on,
With awful state, regardless of their frowns,
As their superior gods.
There's no satiety of love in thee:
Enjoyed, thou still art new; perpetual spring
Is in thy arms; the ripened fruit but falls,
And blossoms rise to fill its empty place;
And I grow rich by giving.
Enter VENTIDIUS, and stands apart
ALEXAS. Oh, now the danger's past, your general comes!
He joins not in your joys, nor minds your triumphs;
But, with contracted brows, looks frowning on,
As envying your success.
ANTONY. Now, on my soul, he loves me; truly loves me:
He never flattered me in any vice,
But awes me with his virtue: even this minute,
Methinks, he has a right of chiding me.
Lead to the temple: I'll avoid his presence;
It checks too strong upon me.
[Exeunt the rest.]
[As ANTONY is going, VENTIDIUS pulls him by the robe.]
ANTONY. 'Tis the old argument; I pr'ythee, spare me.
VENTIDIUS. But this one hearing, emperor.
ANTONY. Let go
My robe; or, by my father Hercules--
VENTIDIUS. By Hercules' father, that's yet greater,
I bring you somewhat you would wish to know.
ANTONY. Thou see'st we are observed; attend me here,
And I'll return.
VENTIDIUS. I am waning in his favour, yet I love him;
I love this man, who runs to meet his ruin;
And sure the gods, like me, are fond of him:
His virtues lie so mingled with his crimes,
As would confound their choice to punish one,
And not reward the other.
ANTONY. We can conquer,
You see, without your aid.
We have dislodged their troops;
They look on us at distance, and, like curs
Scaped from the lion's paws, they bay far off,
And lick their wounds, and faintly threaten war.
Five thousand Romans, with their faces upward,
Lie breathless on the plain.
VENTIDIUS. 'Tis well; and he,
Who lost them, could have spared ten thousand more.
Yet if, by this advantage, you could gain
An easier peace, while Caesar doubts the chance
ANTONY. Oh, think not on't, Ventidius!
The boy pursues my ruin, he'll no peace;
His malice is considerable in advantage.
Oh, he's the coolest murderer! so staunch,
He kills, and keeps his temper.
VENTIDIUS. Have you no friend
In all his army, who has power to move him?
Maecenas, or Agrippa, might do much.
ANTONY. They're both too deep in Caesar's interests.
We'll work it out by dint of sword, or perish.
VENTIDIUS. Fain I would find some other.
ANTONY. Thank thy love.
Some four or five such victories as this
Will save thy further pains.
VENTIDIUS. Expect no more; Caesar is on his guard:
I know, sir, you have conquered against odds;
But still you draw supplies from one poor town,
And of Egyptians: he has all the world,
And, at his beck, nations come pouring in,
To fill the gaps you make. Pray, think again.
ANTONY. Why dost thou drive me from myself, to search
For foreign aids?--to hunt my memory,
And range all o'er a waste and barren place,
To find a friend? The wretched have no friends.
Yet I had one, the bravest youth of Rome,
Whom Caesar loves beyond the love of women:
He could resolve his mind, as fire does wax,
>From that hard rugged image melt him down,
And mould him in what softer form he pleased.
VENTIDIUS. Him would I see; that man, of all the world;
Just such a one we want.
ANTONY. He loved me too;
I was his soul; he lived not but in me:
We were so closed within each other's breasts,
The rivets were not found, that joined us first.
That does not reach us yet: we were so mixt,
As meeting streams, both to ourselves were lost;
We were one mass; we could not give or take,
But from the same; for he was I, I he.
VENTIDIUS. He moves as I would wish him.
ANTONY. After this,
I need not tell his name;--'twas Dolabella.
VENTIDIUS. He's now in Caesar's camp.
ANTONY. No matter where,
Since he's no longer mine. He took unkindly,
That I forbade him Cleopatra's sight,
Because I feared he loved her: he confessed,
He had a warmth, which, for my sake, he stifled;
For 'twere impossible that two, so one,
Should not have loved the same. When he departed,
He took no leave; and that confirmed my thoughts.
VENTIDIUS. It argues, that he loved you more than her,
Else he had stayed; but he perceived you jealous,
And would not grieve his friend: I know he loves you.
ANTONY. I should have seen him, then, ere now.
He has thus long been labouring for your peace.
ANTONY. Would he were here!
VENTIDIUS. Would you believe he loved you?
I read your answer in your eyes, you would.
Not to conceal it longer, he has sent
A messenger from Caesar's camp, with letters.
ANTONY. Let him appear.
VENTIDIUS. I'll bring him instantly.
[Exit VENTIDIUS, and re-enters immediately with DOLABELLA.]
ANTONY. 'Tis he himself! himself, by holy friendship!
[Runs to embrace him.]
Art thou returned at last, my better half?
Come, give me all myself!
Let me not live,
If the young bridegroom, longing for his night,
Was ever half so fond.
DOLABELLA. I must be silent, for my soul is busy
About a nobler work; she's new come home,
Like a long-absent man, and wanders o'er
Each room, a stranger to her own, to look
If all be safe.
ANTONY. Thou hast what's left of me;
For I am now so sunk from what I was,
Thou find'st me at my lowest water-mark.
The rivers that ran in, and raised my fortunes,
Are all dried up, or take another course:
What I have left is from my native spring;
I've still a heart that swells, in scorn of fate,
And lifts me to my banks.
DOLABELLA. Still you are lord of all the world to me.
ANTONY. Why, then I yet am so; for thou art all.
If I had any joy when thou wert absent,
I grudged it to myself; methought I robbed
Thee of thy part. But, O my Dolabella!
Thou has beheld me other than I am.
Hast thou not seen my morning chambers filled
With sceptred slaves, who waited to salute me?
With eastern monarchs, who forgot the sun,
To worship my uprising?--menial kings
Ran coursing up and down my palace-yard,
Stood silent in my presence, watched my eyes,
And, at my least command, all started out,
Like racers to the goal.
DOLABELLA. Slaves to your fortune.
ANTONY. Fortune is Caesar's now; and what am I?
VENTIDIUS. What you have made yourself; I will not flatter.
ANTONY. Is this friendly done?
DOLABELLA. Yes; when his end is so, I must join with him;
Indeed I must, and yet you must not chide;
Why am I else your friend?
ANTONY. Take heed, young man,
How thou upbraid'st my love: The queen has eyes,
And thou too hast a soul. Canst thou remember,
When, swelled with hatred, thou beheld'st her first,
As accessary to thy brother's death?
DOLABELLA. Spare my remembrance; 'twas a guilty day,
And still the blush hangs here.
ANTONY. To clear herself,
For sending him no aid, she came from Egypt.
Her galley down the silver Cydnus rowed,
The tackling silk, the streamers waved with gold;
The gentle winds were lodged in purple sails:
Her nymphs, like Nereids, round her couch were placed;
Where she, another sea-born Venus, lay.
DOLABELLA. No more; I would not hear it.
ANTONY. Oh, you must!
She lay, and leant her cheek upon her hand,
And cast a look so languishingly sweet,
As if, secure of all beholders' hearts,
Neglecting, she could take them: boys, like Cupids,
Stood fanning, with their painted wings, the winds.
That played about her face. But if she smiled
A darting glory seemed to blaze abroad,
That men's desiring eyes were never wearied,
But hung upon the object: To soft flutes
The silver oars kept time; and while they played,
The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight;
And both to thought. 'Twas heaven, or somewhat more;
For she so charmed all hearts, that gazing crowds
Stood panting on the shore, and wanted breath
To give their welcome voice.
Then, Dolabella, where was then thy soul?
Was not thy fury quite disarmed with wonder?
Didst thou not shrink behind me from those eyes
And whisper in my ear--Oh, tell her not
That I accused her with my brother's death?
DOLABELLA. And should my weakness be a plea for yours?
Mine was an age when love might be excused,
When kindly warmth, and when my springing youth
Made it a debt to nature. Yours--
VENTIDIUS. Speak boldly.
Yours, he would say, in your declining age,
When no more heat was left but what you forced,
When all the sap was needful for the trunk,
When it went down, then you constrained the course,
And robbed from nature, to supply desire;
In you (I would not use so harsh a word)
'Tis but plain dotage.
DOLABELLA. 'Twas urged too home.--
But yet the loss was private, that I made;
'Twas but myself I lost: I lost no legions;
I had no world to lose, no people's love.
ANTONY. This from a friend?
DOLABELLA. Yes, Antony, a true one;
A friend so tender, that each word I speak
Stabs my own heart, before it reach your ear.
Oh, judge me not less kind, because I chide!
To Caesar I excuse you.
ANTONY. O ye gods!
Have I then lived to be excused to Caesar?
DOLABELLA. As to your equal.
ANTONY. Well, he's but my equal:
While I wear this he never shall be more.
DOLABELLA. I bring conditions from him.
ANTONY. Are they noble?
Methinks thou shouldst not bring them else; yet he
Is full of deep dissembling; knows no honour
Divided from his interest. Fate mistook him;
For nature meant him for an usurer:
He's fit indeed to buy, not conquer kingdoms.
VENTIDIUS. Then, granting this,
What power was theirs, who wrought so hard a temper
To honourable terms?
ANTONY. I was my Dolabella, or some god.
DOLABELLA. Nor I, nor yet Maecenas, nor Agrippa:
They were your enemies; and I, a friend,
Too weak alone; yet 'twas a Roman's deed.
ANTONY. 'Twas like a Roman done: show me that man,
Who has preserved my life, my love, my honour;
Let me but see his face.
VENTIDIUS. That task is mine,
And, Heaven, thou know'st how pleasing.
DOLABELLA. You'll remember
To whom you stand obliged?
ANTONY. When I forget it
Be thou unkind, and that's my greatest curse.
My queen shall thank him too,
DOLABELLA. I fear she will not.
ANTONY. But she shall do it: The queen, my Dolabella!
Hast thou not still some grudgings of thy fever?
DOLABELLA. I would not see her lost.
ANTONY. When I forsake her,
Leave me my better stars! for she has truth
Beyond her beauty. Caesar tempted her,
At no less price than kingdoms, to betray me;
But she resisted all: and yet thou chidest me
For loving her too well. Could I do so?
DOLABELLA. Yes; there's my reason.
Re-enter VENTIDIUS, with OCTAVIA,
leading ANTONY'S two little DAUGHTERS
ANTONY. Where?--Octavia there!
VENTIDIUS. What, is she poison to you?--a disease?
Look on her, view her well, and those she brings:
Are they all strangers to your eyes? has nature
No secret call, no whisper they are yours?
DOLABELLA. For shame, my lord, if not for love, receive them
With kinder eyes. If you confess a man,
Meet them, embrace them, bid them welcome to you.
Your arms should open, even without your knowledge,
To clasp them in; your feet should turn to wings,
To bear you to them; and your eyes dart out
And aim a kiss, ere you could reach the lips.
ANTONY. I stood amazed, to think how they came hither.
VENTIDIUS. I sent for them; I brought them in unknown
To Cleopatra's guards.
DOLABELLA. Yet, are you cold?
OCTAVIA. Thus long I have attended for my welcome;
Which, as a stranger, sure I might expect.
Who am I?
ANTONY. Caesar's sister.
OCTAVIA. That's unkind.
Had I been nothing more than Caesar's sister,
Know, I had still remained in Caesar's camp:
But your Octavia, your much injured wife,
Though banished from your bed, driven from your house,
In spite of Caesar's sister, still is yours.
'Tis true, I have a heart disdains your coldness,
And prompts me not to seek what you should offer;
But a wife's virtue still surmounts that pride.
I come to claim you as my own; to show
My duty first; to ask, nay beg, your kindness:
Your hand, my lord; 'tis mine, and I will have it.
[Taking his hand.]
VENTIDIUS. Do, take it; thou deserv'st it.
DOLABELLA. On my soul,
And so she does: she's neither too submissive,
Nor yet too haughty; but so just a mean
Shows, as it ought, a wife and Roman too.
ANTONY. I fear, Octavia, you have begged my life.
OCTAVIA. Begged it, my lord?
ANTONY. Yes, begged it, my ambassadress;
Poorly and basely begged it of your brother.
OCTAVIA. Poorly and basely I could never beg:
Nor could my brother grant.
ANTONY. Shall I, who, to my kneeling slave, could say,
Rise up, and be a king; shall I fall down
And cry,--Forgive me, Caesar! Shall I set
A man, my equal, in the place of Jove,
As he could give me being? No; that word,
Forgive, would choke me up,
And die upon my tongue.
DOLABELLA. You shall not need it.
ANTONY. I will not need it. Come, you've all betrayed me,--
My friend too!--to receive some vile conditions.
My wife has bought me, with her prayers and tears;
And now I must become her branded slave.
In every peevish mood, she will upbraid
The life she gave: if I but look awry,
She cries--I'll tell my brother.
OCTAVIA. My hard fortune
Subjects me still to your unkind mistakes.
But the conditions I have brought are such,
Your need not blush to take: I love your honour,
Because 'tis mine; it never shall be said,
Octavia's husband was her brother's slave.
Sir, you are free; free, even from her you loathe;
For, though my brother bargains for your love,
Makes me the price and cement of your peace,
I have a soul like yours; I cannot take
Your love as alms, nor beg what I deserve.
I'll tell my brother we are reconciled;
He shall draw back his troops, and you shall march
To rule the East: I may be dropt at Athens;
No matter where. I never will complain,
But only keep the barren name of wife,
And rid you of the trouble.
VENTIDIUS. Was ever such a strife of sullen honour! [Apart]
Both scorn to be obliged.
DOLABELLA. Oh, she has touched him in the tenderest part;[Apart]
See how he reddens with despite and shame,
To be outdone in generosity!
VENTIDIUS. See how he winks! how he dries up a tear, [Apart]
That fain would fall!
ANTONY. Octavia, I have heard you, and must praise
The greatness of your soul;
But cannot yield to what you have proposed:
For I can ne'er be conquered but by love;
And you do all for duty. You would free me,
And would be dropt at Athens; was't not so?
OCTAVIA. It was, my lord.
ANTONY. Then I must be obliged
To one who loves me not; who, to herself,
May call me thankless and ungrateful man:--
I'll not endure it; no.
VENTIDIUS. I am glad it pinches there.
OCTAVIA. Would you triumph o'er poor Octavia's virtue?
That pride was all I had to bear me up;
That you might think you owed me for your life,
And owed it to my duty, not my love.
I have been injured, and my haughty soul
Could brook but ill the man who slights my bed.
ANTONY. Therefore you love me not.
OCTAVIA. Therefore, my lord,
I should not love you.
ANTONY. Therefore you would leave me?
OCTAVIA. And therefore I should leave you--if I could.
DOLABELLA. Her soul's too great, after such injuries,
To say she loves; and yet she lets you see it.
Her modesty and silence plead her cause.
ANTONY. O Dolabella, which way shall I turn?
I find a secret yielding in my soul;
But Cleopatra, who would die with me,
Must she be left? Pity pleads for Octavia;
But does it not plead more for Cleopatra?
VENTIDIUS. Justice and pity both plead for Octavia;
For Cleopatra, neither.
One would be ruined with you; but she first
Had ruined you: The other, you have ruined,
And yet she would preserve you.
In everything their merits are unequal.
ANTONY. O my distracted soul!
OCTAVIA. Sweet Heaven compose it!--
Come, come, my lord, if I can pardon you,
Methinks you should accept it. Look on these;
Are they not yours? or stand they thus neglected,
As they are mine? Go to him, children, go;
Kneel to him, take him by the hand, speak to him;
For you may speak, and he may own you too,
Without a blush; and so he cannot all
His children: go, I say, and pull him to me,
And pull him to yourselves, from that bad woman.
You, Agrippina, hang upon his arms;
And you, Antonia, clasp about his waist:
If he will shake you off, if he will dash you
Against the pavement, you must bear it, children;
For you are mine, and I was born to suffer.
[Here the CHILDREN go to him, etc.]
VENTIDIUS. Was ever sight so moving?--Emperor!
BOTH CHILDREN. Father!
ANTONY. I am vanquished: take me,
Octavia; take me, children; share me all.
I've been a thriftless debtor to your loves,
And run out much, in riot, from your stock;
But all shall be amended.
OCTAVIA. O blest hour!
DOLABELLA. O happy change!
VENTIDIUS. My joy stops at my tongue;
But it has found two channels here for one,
And bubbles out above.
ANTONY. [to OCTAVIA]
This is thy triumph; lead me where thou wilt;
Even to thy brother's camp.
OCTAVIA. All there are yours.
Enter ALEXAS hastily
ALEXAS. The queen, my mistress, sir, and yours--
ANTONY. 'Tis past.--
Octavia, you shall stay this night: To-morrow,
Caesar and we are one.
[Exit leading OCTAVIA; DOLABELLA and the CHILDREN follow.]
VENTIDIUS. There's news for you; run, my officious eunuch,
Be sure to be the first; haste forward:
Haste, my dear eunuch, haste.
ALEXAS. This downright fighting fool, this thick-skulled hero,
This blunt, unthinking instrument of death,
With plain dull virtue has outgone my wit.
Pleasure forsook my earliest infancy;
The luxury of others robbed my cradle,
And ravished thence the promise of a man.
Cast out from nature, disinherited
Of what her meanest children claim by kind,
Yet greatness kept me from contempt: that's gone.
Had Cleopatra followed my advice,
Then he had been betrayed who now forsakes.
She dies for love; but she has known its joys:
Gods, is this just, that I, who know no joys,
Must die, because she loves?
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMION, IRAS, and Train
O madam, I have seen what blasts my eyes!
CLEOPATRA. Peace with that raven's note.
I know it too; and now am in
The pangs of death.
ALEXAS. You are no more a queen;
Egypt is lost.
CLEOPATRA. What tell'st thou me of Egypt?
My life, my soul is lost! Octavia has him!--
O fatal name to Cleopatra's love!
My kisses, my embraces now are hers;
While I--But thou hast seen my rival; speak,
Does she deserve this blessing? Is she fair?
Bright as a goddess? and is all perfection
Confined to her? It is. Poor I was made
Of that coarse matter, which, when she was finished,
The gods threw by for rubbish.
ALEXAS. She is indeed a very miracle.
CLEOPATRA. Death to my hopes, a miracle!
ALEXAS. A miracle;
I mean of goodness; for in beauty, madam,
You make all wonders cease.
CLEOPATRA. I was too rash:
Take this in part of recompense. But, oh!
[Giving a ring.]
I fear thou flatterest me.
CHARMION. She comes! she's here!
IRAS. Fly, madam, Caesar's sister!
CLEOPATRA. Were she the sister of the thunderer Jove,
And bore her brother's lightning in her eyes,
Thus would I face my rival.
[Meets OCTAVIA with VENTIDIUS. OCTAVIA bears up
to her. Their Trains come up on either side.]
OCTAVIA. I need not ask if you are Cleopatra;
Your haughty carriage--
CLEOPATRA. Shows I am a queen:
Nor need I ask you, who you are.
OCTAVIA. A Roman:
A name, that makes and can unmake a queen.
CLEOPATRA. Your lord, the man who serves me, is a Roman.
OCTAVIA. He was a Roman, till he lost that name,
To be a slave in Egypt; but I come
To free him thence.
CLEOPATRA. Peace, peace, my lover's Juno.
When he grew weary of that household clog,
He chose my easier bonds.
OCTAVIA. I wonder not
Your bonds are easy: you have long been practised
In that lascivious art: He's not the first
For whom you spread your snares: Let Caesar witness.
CLEOPATRA. I loved not Caesar; 'twas but gratitude
I paid his love: The worst your malice can,
Is but to say the greatest of mankind
Has been my slave. The next, but far above him
In my esteem, is he whom law calls yours,
But whom his love made mine.
OCTAVIA. I would view nearer.
[Coming up close to her.]
That face, which has so long usurped my right,
To find the inevitable charms, that catch
Mankind so sure, that ruined my dear lord.
CLEOPATRA. Oh, you do well to search; for had you known
But half these charms, you had not lost his heart.
OCTAVIA. Far be their knowledge from a Roman lady,
Far from a modest wife! Shame of our sex,
Dost thou not blush to own those black endearments,
That make sin pleasing?
CLEOPATRA. You may blush, who want them.
If bounteous nature, if indulgent Heaven
Have given me charms to please the bravest man,
Should I not thank them? Should I be ashamed,
And not be proud? I am, that he has loved me;
And, when I love not him, Heaven change this face
For one like that.
OCTAVIA. Thou lov'st him not so well.
CLEOPATRA. I love him better, and deserve him more.
OCTAVIA. You do not; cannot: You have been his ruin.
Who made him cheap at Rome, but Cleopatra?
Who made him scorned abroad, but Cleopatra?
At Actium, who betrayed him? Cleopatra.
Who made his children orphans, and poor me
A wretched widow? only Cleopatra.
CLEOPATRA. Yet she, who loves him best, is Cleopatra.
If you have suffered, I have suffered more.
You bear the specious title of a wife,
To gild your cause, and draw the pitying world
To favour it: the world condemns poor me.
For I have lost my honour, lost my fame,
And stained the glory of my royal house,
And all to bear the branded name of mistress.
There wants but life, and that too I would lose
For him I love.
OCTAVIA. Be't so, then; take thy wish.
[Exit with her Train.]
CLEOPATRA. And 'tis my wish,
Now he is lost for whom alone I lived.
My sight grows dim, and every object dances,
And swims before me, in the maze of death.
My spirits, while they were opposed, kept up;
They could not sink beneath a rival's scorn!
But now she's gone, they faint.
ALEXAS. Mine have had leisure
To recollect their strength, and furnish counsel,
To ruin her, who else must ruin you.
CLEOPATRA. Vain promiser!
Lead me, my Charmion; nay, your hand too, Iras.
My grief has weight enough to sink you both.
Conduct me to some solitary chamber,
And draw the curtains round;
Then leave me to myself, to take alone
My fill of grief:
There I till death will his unkindness weep;
As harmless infants moan themselves asleep.
Enter ANTONY and DOLABELLA
DOLABELLA. Why would you shift it from yourself on me?
Can you not tell her, you must part?
ANTONY. I cannot.
I could pull out an eye, and bid it go,
And t'other should not weep. O Dolabella,
How many deaths are in this word, DEPART!
I dare not trust my tongue to tell her so:
One look of hers would thaw me into tears,
And I should melt, till I were lost again.
DOLABELLA. Then let Ventidius;
He's rough by nature.
ANTONY. Oh, he'll speak too harshly;
He'll kill her with the news: Thou, only thou.
DOLABELLA. Nature has cast me in so soft a mould,
That but to hear a story, feigned for pleasure,
Of some sad lover's death, moistens my eyes,
And robs me of my manhood. I should speak
So faintly, with such fear to grieve her heart,
She'd not believe it earnest.
Thou only, thou art fit: Think thyself me;
And when thou speak'st (but let it first be long),
Take off the edge from every sharper sound,
And let our parting be as gently made,
As other loves begin: Wilt thou do this?
DOLABELLA. What you have said so sinks into my soul,
That, if I must speak, I shall speak just so.
ANTONY. I leave you then to your sad task: Farewell.
I sent her word to meet you.
[Goes to the door, and comes back.]
Let her be told, I'll make her peace with mine,
Her crown and dignity shall be preserved,
If I have power with Caesar.--Oh, be sure
To think on that.
DOLABELLA. Fear not, I will remember.
[ANTONY goes again to the door, and comes back.]
ANTONY. And tell her, too, how much I was constrained;
I did not this, but with extremest force.
Desire her not to hate my memory,
For I still cherish hers:--insist on that.
DOLABELLA. Trust me. I'll not forget it.
ANTONY. Then that's all.
[Goes out, and returns again.]
Wilt thou forgive my fondness this once more?
Tell her, though we shall never meet again,
If I should hear she took another love,
The news would break my heart.--Now I must go;
For every time I have returned, I feel
My soul more tender; and my next command
Would be, to bid her stay, and ruin both.
DOLABELLA. Men are but children of a larger growth;
Our appetites as apt to change as theirs,
And full as craving too, and full as vain;
And yet the soul, shut up in her dark room,
Viewing so clear abroad, at home sees nothing:
But, like a mole in earth, busy and blind,
Works all her folly up, and casts it outward
To the world's open view: Thus I discovered,
And blamed the love of ruined Antony:
Yet wish that I were he, to be so ruined.
Enter VENTIDIUS above
VENTIDIUS. Alone, and talking to himself? concerned too?
Perhaps my guess is right; he loved her once,
And may pursue it still.
DOLABELLA. O friendship! friendship!
Ill canst thou answer this; and reason, worse:
Unfaithful in the attempt; hopeless to win;
And if I win, undone: mere madness all.
And yet the occasion's fair. What injury
To him, to wear the robe which he throws by!
VENTIDIUS. None, none at all. This happens as I wish,
To ruin her yet more with Antony.
Enter CLEOPATRA talking with ALEXAS;
CHARMION, IRAS on the other side.
DOLABELLA. She comes! What charms have sorrow on that face!
Sorrow seems pleased to dwell with so much sweetness;
Yet, now and then, a melancholy smile
Breaks loose, like lightning in a winter's night,
And shows a moment's day.
VENTIDIUS. If she should love him too! her eunuch there?
That porc'pisce bodes ill weather. Draw, draw nearer,
Sweet devil, that I may hear.
ALEXAS. Believe me; try
[DOLABELLA goes over to CHARMION and IRAS;
seems to talk with them.]
To make him jealous; jealousy is like
A polished glass held to the lips when life's in doubt;
If there be breath, 'twill catch the damp, and show it.
CLEOPATRA. I grant you, jealousy's a proof of love,
But 'tis a weak and unavailing medicine;
It puts out the disease, and makes it show,
But has no power to cure.
ALEXAS. 'Tis your last remedy, and strongest too:
And then this Dolabella, who so fit
To practise on? He's handsome, valiant, young,
And looks as he were laid for nature's bait,
To catch weak women's eyes.
He stands already more than half suspected
Of loving you: the least kind word or glance,
You give this youth, will kindle him with love:
Then, like a burning vessel set adrift,
You'll send him down amain before the wind,
To fire the heart of jealous Antony.
CLEOPATRA. Can I do this? Ah, no, my love's so true,
That I can neither hide it where it is,
Nor show it where it is not. Nature meant me
A wife; a silly, harmless, household dove,
Fond without art, and kind without deceit;
But Fortune, that has made a mistress of me,
Has thrust me out to the wide world, unfurnished
Of falsehood to be happy.
ALEXAS. Force yourself.
The event will be, your lover will return,
Doubly desirous to possess the good
Which once he feared to lose.
CLEOPATRA. I must attempt it;
But oh, with what regret!
[Exit ALEXAS. She comes up to DOLABELLA.]
VENTIDIUS. So, now the scene draws near; they're in my reach.
CLEOPATRA. [to DOLABELLA.]
Discoursing with my women! might not I
Share in your entertainment?
CHARMION. You have been
The subject of it, madam.
CLEOPATRA. How! and how!
IRAS. Such praises of your beauty!
CLEOPATRA. Mere poetry.
Your Roman wits, your Gallus and Tibullus,
Have taught you this from Cytheris and Delia.
DOLABELLA. Those Roman wits have never been in Egypt;
Cytheris and Delia else had been unsung:
I, who have seen--had I been born a poet,
Should choose a nobler name.
CLEOPATRA. You flatter me.
But, 'tis your nation's vice: All of your country
Are flatterers, and all false. Your friend's like you.
I'm sure, he sent you not to speak these words.
DOLABELLA. No, madam; yet he sent me--
CLEOPATRA. Well, he sent you--
DOLABELLA. Of a less pleasing errand.
CLEOPATRA. How less pleasing?
Less to yourself, or me?
DOLABELLA. Madam, to both;
For you must mourn, and I must grieve to cause it.
CLEOPATRA. You, Charmion, and your fellow, stand at distance.--
Hold up, my spirits. [Aside.]--Well, now your mournful matter;
For I'm prepared, perhaps can guess it too.
DOLABELLA. I wish you would; for 'tis a thankless office,
To tell ill news: And I, of all your sex,
Most fear displeasing you.
CLEOPATRA. Of all your sex,
I soonest could forgive you, if you should.
VENTIDIUS. Most delicate advances! Women! women!
Dear, damned, inconstant sex!
CLEOPATRA. In the first place,
I am to be forsaken; is't not so?
DOLABELLA. I wish I could not answer to that question.
CLEOPATRA. Then pass it o'er, because it troubles you:
I should have been more grieved another time.
Next I'm to lose my kingdom--Farewell, Egypt!
Yet, is there ary more?
DOLABELLA. Madam, I fear
Your too deep sense of grief has turned your reason.
CLEOPATRA. No, no, I'm not run mad; I can bear fortune:
And love may be expelled by other love,
As poisons are by poisons.
DOLABELLA. You o'erjoy me, madam,
To find your griefs so moderately borne.
You've heard the worst; all are not false like him.
CLEOPATRA. No; Heaven forbid they should.
DOLABELLA. Some men are constant.
CLEOPATRA. And constancy deserves reward, that's certain.
DOLABELLA. Deserves it not; but give it leave to hope.
VENTIDIUS. I'll swear, thou hast my leave. I have enough:
But how to manage this! Well, I'll consider.
DOLABELLA. I came prepared
To tell you heavy news; news, which I thought
Would fright the blood from your pale cheeks to hear:
But you have met it with a cheerfulness,
That makes my task more easy; and my tongue,
Which on another's message was employed,
Would gladly speak its own.
CLEOPATRA. Hold, Dolabella.
First tell me, were you chosen by my lord?
Or sought you this employment?
DOLABELLA. He picked me out; and, as his bosom friend,
He charged me with his words.
CLEOPATRA. The message then
I know was tender, and each accent smooth,
To mollify that rugged word, DEPART.
DOLABELLA. Oh, you mistake: He chose the harshest words;
With fiery eyes, and contracted brows,
He coined his face in the severest stamp;
And fury shook his fabric, like an earthquake;
He heaved for vent, and burst like bellowing Aetna,
In sounds scarce human--"Hence away for ever,
Let her begone, the blot of my renown,
And bane of all my hopes!"
[All the time of this speech, CLEOPATRA seems more
and more concerned, till she sinks quite down.]
"Let her be driven, as far as men can think,
>From man's commerce! she'll poison to the centre."
CLEOPATRA. Oh, I can bear no more!
DOLABELLA. Help, help!--O wretch! O cursed, cursed wretch!
What have I done!
CHARMION. Help, chafe her temples, Iras.
IRAS. Bend, bend her forward quickly.
CHARMION. Heaven be praised,
She comes again.
CLEOPATRA. Oh, let him not approach me.
Why have you brought me back to this loathed being;
The abode of falsehood, violated vows,
And injured love? For pity, let me go;
For, if there be a place of long repose,
I'm sure I want it. My disdainful lord
Can never break that quiet; nor awake
The sleeping soul, with hollowing in my tomb
Such words as fright her hence.--Unkind, unkind!
DOLABELLA. Believe me, 'tis against myself I speak;
That sure desires belief; I injured him:
My friend ne'er spoke those words. Oh, had you seen
How often he came back, and every time
With something more obliging and more kind,
To add to what he said; what dear farewells;
How almost vanquished by his love he parted,
And leaned to what unwillingly he left!
I, traitor as I was, for love of you
(But what can you not do, who made me false?)
I forged that lie; for whose forgiveness kneels
This self-accused, self-punished criminal.
CLEOPATRA. With how much ease believe we what we wish!
Rise, Dolabella; if you have been guilty,
I have contributed, and too much love
Has made me guilty too.
The advance of kindness, which I made, was feigned,
To call back fleeting love by jealousy;
But 'twould not last. Oh, rather let me lose,
Than so ignobly trifle with his heart.
DOLABELLA. I find your breast fenced round from human reach,
Transparent as a rock of solid crystal;
Seen through, but never pierced. My friend, my friend,
What endless treasure hast thou thrown away;
And scattered, like an infant, in the ocean,
Vain sums of wealth, which none can gather thence!
CLEOPATRA. Could you not beg
An hour's admittance to his private ear?
Like one, who wanders through long barren wilds
And yet foreknows no hospitable inn
Is near to succour hunger, eats his fill,
Before his painful march;
So would I feed a while my famished eyes
Before we part; for I have far to go,
If death be far, and never must return.
VENTIDIUS with OCTAVIA, behind
VENTIDIUS. From hence you may discover--oh, sweet, sweet!
Would you indeed? The pretty hand in earnest?
DOLABELLA. I will, for this reward.
[Takes her hand.]
Draw it not back.
'Tis all I e'er will beg.
VENTIDIUS. They turn upon us.
OCTAVIA. What quick eyes has guilt!
VENTIDIUS. Seem not to have observed them, and go on.
DOLABELLA. Saw you the emperor, Ventidius?
I sought him; but I heard that he was private,
None with him but Hipparchus, his freedman.
DOLABELLA. Know you his business?
VENTIDIUS. Giving him instructions,
And letters to his brother Caesar.
He must be found.
[Exeunt DOLABELLA and CLEOPATRA.]
OCTAVIA. Most glorious impudence!
VENTIDIUS. She looked, methought,
As she would say--Take your old man, Octavia;
Thank you, I'm better here.--
Well, but what use
Make we of this discovery?
OCTAVIA. Let it die.
VENTIDIUS. I pity Dolabella; but she's dangerous:
Her eyes have power beyond Thessalian charms,
To draw the moon from heaven; for eloquence,
The sea-green Syrens taught her voice their flattery;
And, while she speaks, night steals upon the day,
Unmarked of those that hear. Then she's so charming,
Age buds at sight of her, and swells to youth:
The holy priests gaze on her when she smiles;
And with heaved hands, forgetting gravity,
They bless her wanton eyes: Even I, who hate her,
With a malignant joy behold such beauty;
And, while I curse, desire it. Antony
Must needs have some remains of passion still,
Which may ferment into a worse relapse,
If now not fully cured. I know, this minute,
With Caesar he's endeavouring her peace.
OCTAVIA. You have prevailed:--But for a further purpose
I'll prove how he will relish this discovery.
What, make a strumpet's peace! it swells my heart:
It must not, shall not be.
VENTIDIUS. His guards appear.
Let me begin, and you shall second me.
ANTONY. Octavia, I was looking you, my love:
What, are your letters ready? I have given
My last instructions.
OCTAVIA. Mine, my lord, are written.
[Drawing him aside.]
VENTIDIUS. My lord?
ANTONY. A word in private.--
When saw you Dolabella?
VENTIDIUS. Now, my lord,
He parted hence; and Cleopatra with him.
ANTONY. Speak softly.--'Twas by my command he went,
To bear my last farewell.
VENTIDIUS. It looked indeed
Like your farewell.
ANTONY. More softly.--My farewell?
What secret meaning have you in those words
Of--My farewell? He did it by my order.
VENTIDIUS. Then he obeyed your order. I suppose
You bid him do it with all gentleness,
All kindness, and all--love.
ANTONY. How she mourned,
The poor forsaken creature!
VENTIDIUS. She took it as she ought; she bore your parting
As she did Caesar's, as she would another's,
Were a new love to come.
ANTONY. Thou dost belie her;
Most basely, and maliciously belie her.
VENTIDIUS. I thought not to displease you; I have done.
OCTAVIA. You seemed disturbed, my Lord.
ANTONY. A very trifle.
Retire, my love.
VENTIDIUS. It was indeed a trifle.
ANTONY. No more. Look how thou disobey'st me;
Thy life shall answer it.
OCTAVIA. Then 'tis no trifle.
VENTIDIUS. [to OCTAVIA.]
'Tis less; a very nothing: You too saw it,
As well as I, and therefore 'tis no secret.
ANTONY. She saw it!
VENTIDIUS. Yes: She saw young Dolabella--
ANTONY. Young Dolabella!
VENTIDIUS. Young, I think him young,
And handsome too; and so do others think him.
But what of that? He went by your command,
Indeed 'tis probable, with some kind message;
For she received it graciously; she smiled;
And then he grew familiar with her hand,
Squeezed it, and worried it with ravenous kisses;
She blushed, and sighed, and smiled, and blushed again;
At last she took occasion to talk softly,
And brought her cheek up close, and leaned on his;
At which, he whispered kisses back on hers;
And then she cried aloud--That constancy
Should be rewarded.
OCTAVIA. This I saw and heard.
ANTONY. What woman was it, whom you heard and saw
So playful with my friend?
VENTIDIUS. Even she, my lord.
ANTONY. My Cleopatra?
VENTIDIUS. Your Cleopatra;
Dolabella's Cleopatra; every man's Cleopatra.
ANTONY. Thou liest.
VENTIDIUS. I do not lie, my lord.
Is this so strange? Should mistresses be left,
And not provide against a time of change?
You know she's not much used to lonely nights.
ANTONY. I'll think no more on't.
I know 'tis false, and see the plot betwixt you.--
You needed not have gone this way, Octavia.
What harms it you that Cleopatra's just?
She's mine no more. I see, and I forgive:
Urge it no further, love.
OCTAVIA. Are you concerned,
That she's found false?
ANTONY. I should be, were it so;
For, though 'tis past, I would not that the world
Should tax my former choice, that I loved one
Of so light note; but I forgive you both.
VENTIDIUS. What has my age deserved, that you should think
I would abuse your ears with perjury?
If Heaven be true, she's false.
ANTONY. Though heaven and earth
Should witness it, I'll not believe her tainted.
VENTIDIUS. I'll bring you, then, a witness
>From hell, to prove her so.--Nay, go not back;
[Seeing ALEXAS just entering, and starting back.]
For stay you must and shall.
ALEXAS. What means my lord?
VENTIDIUS. To make you do what most you hate,--speak truth.
You are of Cleopatra's private counsel,
Of her bed-counsel, her lascivious hours;
Are conscious of each nightly change she makes,
And watch her, as Chaldaeans do the moon,
Can tell what signs she passes through, what day.
ALEXAS. My noble lord!
VENTIDIUS. My most illustrious pander,
No fine set speech, no cadence, no turned periods,
But a plain homespun truth, is what I ask.
I did, myself, o'erhear your queen make love
To Dolabella. Speak; for I will know,
By your confession, what more passed betwixt them;
How near the business draws to your employment;
And when the happy hour.
ANTONY. Speak truth, Alexas; whether it offend
Or please Ventidius, care not: Justify
Thy injured queen from malice: Dare his worst.
OCTAVIA. [aside.] See how he gives him courage! how he fears
To find her false! and shuts his eyes to truth,
Willing to be misled!
ALEXAS. As far as love may plead for woman's frailty,
Urged by desert and greatness of the lover,
So far, divine Octavia, may my queen
Stand even excused to you for loving him
Who is your lord: so far, from brave Ventidius,
May her past actions hope a fair report.
ANTONY. 'Tis well, and truly spoken: mark, Ventidius.
ALEXAS. To you, most noble emperor, her strong passion
Stands not excused, but wholly justified.
Her beauty's charms alone, without her crown,
>From Ind and Meroe drew the distant vows
Of sighing kings; and at her feet were laid
The sceptres of the earth, exposed on heaps,
To choose where she would reign:
She thought a Roman only could deserve her,
And, of all Romans, only Antony;
And, to be less than wife to you, disdained
Their lawful passion.
ANTONY. 'Tis but truth.
ALEXAS. And yet, though love, and your unmatched desert,
Have drawn her from the due regard of honour,
At last Heaven opened her unwilling eyes
To see the wrongs she offered fair Octavia,
Whose holy bed she lawlessly usurped.
The sad effects of this improsperous war
Confirmed those pious thoughts.
VENTIDIUS. [aside.] Oh, wheel you there?
Observe him now; the man begins to mend,
And talk substantial reason.--Fear not, eunuch;
The emperor has given thee leave to speak.
ALEXAS. Else had I never dared to offend his ears
With what the last necessity has urged
On my forsaken mistress; yet I must not
Presume to say, her heart is wholly altered.
ANTONY. No, dare not for thy life, I charge thee dare not
Pronounce that fatal word!
OCTAVIA. Must I bear this? Good Heaven, afford me patience.
VENTIDIUS. On, sweet eunuch; my dear half-man, proceed.
ALEXAS. Yet Dolabella
Has loved her long; he, next my god-like lord,
Deserves her best; and should she meet his passion,
Rejected, as she is, by him she loved----
ANTONY. Hence from my sight! for I can bear no more:
Let furies drag thee quick to hell; let all
The longer damned have rest; each torturing hand
Do thou employ, till Cleopatra comes;
Then join thou too, and help to torture her!
[Exit ALEXAS, thrust out by ANTONY.]
OCTAVIA. 'Tis not well.
Indeed, my lord, 'tis much unkind to me,
To show this passion, this extreme concernment,
For an abandoned, faithless prostitute.
ANTONY. Octavia, leave me; I am much disordered:
Leave me, I say.
OCTAVIA. My lord!
ANTONY. I bid you leave me.
VENTIDIUS. Obey him, madam: best withdraw a while,
And see how this will work.
OCTAVIA. Wherein have I offended you, my lord,
That I am bid to leave you? Am I false,
Or infamous? Am I a Cleopatra?
Were I she,
Base as she is, you would not bid me leave you;
But hang upon my neck, take slight excuses,
And fawn upon my falsehood.
ANTONY. 'Tis too much.
Too much, Octavia; I am pressed with sorrows
Too heavy to be borne; and you add more:
I would retire, and recollect what's left
Of man within, to aid me.
OCTAVIA. You would mourn,
In private, for your love, who has betrayed you.
You did but half return to me: your kindness
Lingered behind with her, I hear, my lord,
You make conditions for her,
And would include her treaty. Wondrous proofs
Of love to me!
ANTONY. Are you my friend, Ventidius?
Or are you turned a Dolabella too,
And let this fury loose?
VENTIDIUS. Oh, be advised,
Sweet madam, and retire.
OCTAVIA. Yes, I will go; but never to return.
You shall no more be haunted with this Fury.
My lord, my lord, love will not always last,
When urged with long unkindness and disdain:
Take her again, whom you prefer to me;
She stays but to be called. Poor cozened man!
Let a feigned parting give her back your heart,
Which a feigned love first got; for injured me,
Though my just sense of wrongs forbid my stay,
My duty shall be yours.
To the dear pledges of our former love
My tenderness and care shall be transferred,
And they shall cheer, by turns, my widowed nights:
So, take my last farewell; for I despair
To have you whole, and scorn to take you half.
VENTIDIUS. I combat Heaven, which blasts my best designs;
My last attempt must be to win her back;
But oh! I fear in vain.
ANTONY. Why was I framed with this plain, honest heart,
Which knows not to disguise its griefs and weakness,
But bears its workings outward to the world?
I should have kept the mighty anguish in,
And forced a smile at Cleopatra's falsehood:
Octavia had believed it, and had stayed.
But I am made a shallow-forded stream,
Seen to the bottom: all my clearness scorned,
And all my faults exposed.--See where he comes,
Who has profaned the sacred name of friend,
And worn it into vileness!
With how secure a brow, and specious form,
He gilds the secret villain! Sure that face
Was meant for honesty; but Heaven mismatched it,
And furnished treason out with nature's pomp,
To make its work more easy.
DOLABELLA. O my friend!
ANTONY. Well, Dolabella, you performed my message?
DOLABELLA. I did, unwillingly.
Was it so hard for you to bear our parting?
You should have wished it.
ANTONY. Because you love me.
And she received my message with as true,
With as unfeigned a sorrow as you brought it?
DOLABELLA. She loves you, even to madness.
ANTONY. Oh, I know it.
You, Dolabella, do not better know
How much she loves me. And should I
Forsake this beauty? This all-perfect creature?
DOLABELLA. I could not, were she mine.
ANTONY. And yet you first
Persuaded me: How come you altered since?
DOLABELLA. I said at first I was not fit to go:
I could not hear her sighs, and see her tears,
But pity must prevail: And so, perhaps,
It may again with you; for I have promised,
That she should take her last farewell: And, see,
She comes to claim my word.
ANTONY. False Dolabella!
DOLABELLA. What's false, my lord?
ANTONY. Why, Dolabella's false,
And Cleopatra's false; both false and faithless.
Draw near, you well-joined wickedness, you serpents,
Whom I have in my kindly bosom warmed,
Till I am stung to death.
DOLABELLA. My lord, have I
Deserved to be thus used?
CLEOPATRA. Can Heaven prepare
A newer torment? Can it find a curse
Beyond our separation?
ANTONY. Yes, if fate
Be just, much greater: Heaven should be ingenious
In punishing such crimes. The rolling stone,
And gnawing vulture, were slight pains, invented
When Jove was young, and no examples known
Of mighty ills; but you have ripened sin,
To such a monstrous growth, 'twill pose the gods
To find an equal torture. Two, two such!--
Oh, there's no further name,--two such! to me,
To me, who locked my soul within your breasts,
Had no desires, no joys, no life, but you;
When half the globe was mine, I gave it you
In dowry with my heart; I had no use,
No fruit of all, but you: A friend and mistress
Was what the world could give. O Cleopatra!
O Dolabella! how could you betray
This tender heart, which with an infant fondness
Lay lulled betwixt your bosoms, and there slept,
Secure of injured faith?
DOLABELLA. If she has wronged you,
Heaven, hell, and you revenge it.
ANTONY. If she has wronged me!
Thou wouldst evade thy part of guilt; but swear
Thou lov'st not her.
DOLABELLA. Not so as I love you.
ANTONY. Not so? Swear, swear, I say, thou dost not love her.
DOLABELLA. No more than friendship will allow.
ANTONY. No more?
Friendship allows thee nothing: Thou art perjured--
And yet thou didst not swear thou lov'st her not;
But not so much, no more. O trifling hypocrite,
Who dar'st not own to her, thou dost not love,
Nor own to me, thou dost! Ventidius heard it;
Octavia saw it.
CLEOPATRA. They are enemies.
ANTONY. Alexas is not so: He, he confessed it;
He, who, next hell, best knew it, he avowed it.
Why do I seek a proof beyond yourself?
You, whom I sent to bear my last farewell,
Returned, to plead her stay.
DOLABELLA. What shall I answer?
If to have loved be guilt, then I have sinned;
But if to have repented of that love
Can wash away my crime, I have repented.
Yet, if I have offended past forgiveness,
Let not her suffer: She is innocent.
CLEOPATRA. Ah, what will not a woman do, who loves?
What means will she refuse, to keep that heart,
Where all her joys are placed? 'Twas I encouraged,
'Twas I blew up the fire that scorched his soul,
To make you jealous, and by that regain you.
But all in vain; I could not counterfeit:
In spite of all the dams my love broke o'er,
And drowned by heart again: fate took the occasion;
And thus one minute's feigning has destroyed
My whole life's truth.
ANTONY. Thin cobweb arts of falsehood;
Seen, and broke through at first.
DOLABELLA. Forgive your mistress.
CLEOPATRA. Forgive your friend.
ANTONY. You have convinced yourselves.
You plead each other's cause: What witness have you,
That you but meant to raise my jealousy?
CLEOPATRA. Ourselves, and Heaven.
ANTONY. Guilt witnesses for guilt. Hence, love and friendship!
You have no longer place in human breasts,
These two have driven you out: Avoid my sight!
I would not kill the man whom I have loved,
And cannot hurt the woman; but avoid me:
I do not know how long I can be tame;
For, if I stay one minute more, to think
How I am wronged, my justice and revenge
Will cry so loud within me, that my pity
Will not be heard for either.
DOLABELLA. Heaven has but
Our sorrow for our sins; and then delights
To pardon erring man: Sweet mercy seems
Its darling attribute, which limits justice;
As if there were degrees in infinite,
And infinite would rather want perfection
Than punish to extent.
ANTONY. I can forgive
A foe; but not a mistress and a friend.
Treason is there in its most horrid shape,
Where trust is greatest; and the soul resigned,
Is stabbed by its own guards: I'll hear no more;
Hence from my sight for ever!
CLEOPATRA. How? for ever!
I cannot go one moment from your sight,
And must I go for ever?
My joys, my only joys, are centred here:
What place have I to go to? My own kingdom?
That I have lost for you: Or to the Romans?
They hate me for your sake: Or must I wander
The wide world o'er, a helpless, banished woman,
Banished for love of you; banished from you?
Ay, there's the banishment! Oh, hear me; hear me,
With strictest justice: For I beg no favour;
And if I have offended you, then kill me,
But do not banish me.
ANTONY. I must not hear you.
I have a fool within me takes your part;
But honour stops my ears.
CLEOPATRA. For pity hear me!
Would you cast off a slave who followed you?
Who crouched beneath your spurn?--He has no pity!
See, if he gives one tear to my departure;
One look, one kind farewell: O iron heart!
Let all the gods look down, and judge betwixt us,
If he did ever love!
ANTONY. No more: Alexas!
DOLABELLA. A perjured villain!
ANTONY. [to CLEOPATRA.] Your Alexas; yours.
CLEOPATRA. Oh, 'twas his plot; his ruinous design,
To engage you in my love by jealousy.
Hear him; confront him with me; let him speak.
ANTONY. I have; I have.
CLEOPATRA. And if he clear me not--
ANTONY. Your creature! one, who hangs upon your smiles!
Watches your eye, to say or to unsay,
Whate'er you please! I am not to be moved.
CLEOPATRA. Then must we part? Farewell, my cruel lord!
The appearance is against me; and I go,
Unjustified, for ever from your sight.
How I have loved, you know; how yet I love,
My only comfort is, I know myself:
I love you more, even now you are unkind,
Then when you loved me most; so well, so truly
I'll never strive against it; but die pleased,
To think you once were mine.
ANTONY. Good heaven, they weep at parting!
Must I weep too? that calls them innocent.
I must not weep; and yet I must, to think
That I must not forgive.--
Live, but live wretched; 'tis but just you should,
Who made me so: Live from each other's sight:
Let me not hear you meet. Set all the earth,
And all the seas, betwixt your sundered loves:
View nothing common but the sun and skies.
Now, all take several ways;
And each your own sad fate, with mine, deplore;
That you were false, and I could trust no more.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMION, and IRAS
CHARMION. Be juster, Heaven; such virtue punished thus,
Will make us think that chance rules all above,
And shuffles, with a random hand, the lots,
Which man is forced to draw.
CLEOPATRA. I could tear out these eyes, that gained his heart,
And had not power to keep it. O the curse
Of doting on, even when I find it dotage!
Bear witness, gods, you heard him bid me go;
You, whom he mocked with imprecating vows
Of promised faith!--I'll die; I will not bear it.
You may hold me--
[She pulls out her dagger, and they hold her.]
But I can keep my breath; I can die inward,
And choke this love.
IRAS. Help, O Alexas, help!
The queen grows desperate; her soul struggles in her
With all the agonies of love and rage,
And strives to force its passage.
CLEOPATRA. Let me go.
Art thou there, traitor!--O,
O for a little breath, to vent my rage,
Give, give me way, and let me loose upon him.
ALEXAS. Yes, I deserve it, for my ill-timed truth.
Was it for me to prop
The ruins of a falling majesty?
To place myself beneath the mighty flaw,
Thus to be crushed, and pounded into atoms,
By its o'erwhelming weight? 'Tis too presuming
For subjects to preserve that wilful power,
Which courts its own destruction.
CLEOPATRA. I would reason
More calmly with you. Did not you o'errule,
And force my plain, direct, and open love,
Into these crooked paths of jealousy?
Now, what's the event? Octavia is removed;
But Cleopatra's banished. Thou, thou villain,
Hast pushed my boat to open sea; to prove,
At my sad cost, if thou canst steer it back.
It cannot be; I'm lost too far; I'm ruined:
Hence, thou impostor, traitor, monster, devil!--
I can no more: Thou, and my griefs, have sunk
Me down so low, that I want voice to curse thee.
ALEXAS. Suppose some shipwrecked seaman near the shore,
Dropping and faint, with climbing up the cliff,
If, from above, some charitable hand
Pull him to safety, hazarding himself,
To draw the other's weight; would he look back,
And curse him for his pains? The case is yours;
But one step more, and you have gained the height.
CLEOPATRA. Sunk, never more to rise.
ALEXAS. Octavia's gone, and Dolabella banished.
Believe me, madam, Antony is yours.
His heart was never lost, but started off
To jealousy, love's last retreat and covert;
Where it lies hid in shades, watchful in silence,
And listening for the sound that calls it back.
Some other, any man ('tis so advanced),
May perfect this unfinished work, which I
(Unhappy only to myself) have left
So easy to his hand.
CLEOPATRA. Look well thou do't; else--
ALEXAS. Else, what your silence threatens.--Antony
Is mounted up the Pharos; from whose turret,
He stands surveying our Egyptian galleys,
Engaged with Caesar's fleet. Now death or conquest!
If the first happen, fate acquits my promise;
If we o'ercome, the conqueror is yours.
[A distant shout within.]
CHARMION. Have comfort, madam: Did you mark that shout?
[Second shout nearer.]
IRAS. Hark! they redouble it.
ALEXAS. 'Tis from the port.
The loudness shows it near: Good news, kind heavens!
CLEOPATRA. Osiris make it so!
SERAPION. Where, where's the queen?
ALEXAS. How frightfully the holy coward stares
As if not yet recovered of the assault,
When all his gods, and, what's more dear to him,
His offerings, were at stake.
SERAPION. O horror, horror!
Egypt has been; our latest hour has come:
The queen of nations, from her ancient seat,
Is sunk for ever in the dark abyss:
Time has unrolled her glories to the last,
And now closed up the volume.
CLEOPATRA. Be more plain:
Say, whence thou comest; though fate is in thy face,
Which from the haggard eyes looks wildly out,
And threatens ere thou speakest.
SERAPION. I came from Pharos;
>From viewing (spare me, and imagine it)
Our land's last hope, your navy--
They fought not.
CLEOPATRA. Then they fled.
SERAPION. Nor that. I saw,
With Antony, your well-appointed fleet
Row out; and thrice he waved his hand on high,
And thrice with cheerful cries they shouted back:
'Twas then false Fortune, like a fawning strumpet,
About to leave the bankrupt prodigal,
With a dissembled smile would kiss at parting,
And flatter to the last; the well-timed oars,
Now dipt from every bank, now smoothly run
To meet the foe; and soon indeed they met,
But not as foes. In few, we saw their caps
On either side thrown up; the Egyptian galleys,
Received like friends, passed through, and fell behind
The Roman rear: And now, they all come forward,
And ride within the port.
CLEOPATRA. Enough, Serapion:
I've heard my doom.--This needed not, you gods:
When I lost Antony, your work was done;
'Tis but superfluous malice.--Where's my lord?
How bears he this last blow?
SERAPION. His fury cannot be expressed by words:
Thrice he attempted headlong to have fallen
Full on his foes, and aimed at Caesar's galley:
Withheld, he raves on you; cries,--He's betrayed.
Should he now find you--
ALEXAS. Shun him; seek your safety,
Till you can clear your innocence.
CLEOPATRA. I'll stay.
ALEXAS. You must not; haste you to your monument,
While I make speed to Caesar.
CLEOPATRA. Caesar! No,
I have no business with him.
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