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
Ant. 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.
Cleo. 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.
Ant. My brighter Venus!
Cleo. O my greater Mars!
Ant. 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
Alex. 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.
Ant. 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.
Ant. `Tis the old argument; I pr`ythee, spare me.
Vent. But this one hearing, emperor.
Ant. Let go
My robe; or, by my father Hercules -
Vent. By Hercules` father, that`s yet greater,
I bring you somewhat you would wish to know.
Ant. Thou see`st we are observed; attend me here,
And I`ll return.
Vent. 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.
Ant. 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.
Vent. `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
Of arms -
Ant. 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.
Vent. Have you no friend
In all his army, who has power to move him?
Maecenas, or Agrippa, might do much
Ant. They`re both too deep in Caesar`s interests.
We`ll work it out by dint of sword, or perish.
Vent. Fain I would find some other.
Ant. Thank thy love.
Some four or five such victories as this
Will save thy further pains.
Vent. 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.
Ant. 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.
Vent. Him would I see; that man, of all the world;
Just such a one we want.
Ant. He love 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.
Vent. He moves as I would wish him.
Ant. After this,
I need not tell his name; - `twas Dolabella.
Vent. He`s now in Caesar`s camp.
Ant. 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.
Vent. 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.
Ant. I should have seen him, then, ere now.
He has thus long been labouring for your peace.
Ant. Would he were here!
Vent. 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.
Ant. Let him appear
Vent. I`ll bring him instantly.
[Exit Ventidius, and re - enters immediately with Dolabella.
Ant. `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.
Dola. 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.
Ant. 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.
Dola. Still you are lord of all the world to me.
Ant. 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.
Dola. Slaves to your fortune.
Ant. Fortune is Caesar`s now; and what am I?
Vent. What you have made yourself; I will not flatter.
Ant. Is this friendly done?
Dola. 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?
Ant. 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?
Dola. Spare my remembrance; `twas a guilty day,
And still the blush hangs here.
Ant. 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.
Dola. No more; I would not hear it.
Ant. Oh, you must!
She lay, and leant her cheek upon her hand,
And cast a look so languishingly sweet,
As if, secure of all beholder`s 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 blazed 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 they 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?
Dola. 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 -
Vent. 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.
Dola. `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.
Ant. This from a friend?
Dola. 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.
Ant. O ye gods!
Have I then lived to be excused to Caesar?
Dola. As to your equal.
Ant. Well, he`s but my equal:
While I wear this he never shall be more.
Dola. I bring conditions from him.
Ant. 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 from an usurer:
He`s fit indeed to buy, not conquer kingdoms.
Vent. Then, granting this,
What power was theirs, who wrought so hard a temper
To honourable terms?
Ant. I was my Dolabella, or some god.
Dola. Nor I, nor yet Maecenas, nor Agrippa:
They were your enemies; and I, a friend,
Too weak alone; yet `twas a Roman`s deed.
Ant. `Twas like a Roman done: show me that man,
Who has preserved my life, my love, my honour;
Let me but see his face.
Vent. That task is mine,
And, Heaven, thou know`st how pleasing.
Dola. You`ll remember
To whom you stand obliged?
Ant. When I forget it
Be thou unkind, and that`s my greatest curse.
My queen shall thank him too,
Dola. I fear she will not.
Ant. But she shall do it: The queen, my Dolabella!
Hast thou not still some grudgings of thy fever?
Dola. I would not see her lost.
Ant. 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?
Dola. Yes; there`s my reason.