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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 fruitful' 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 hers.
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 o’erflowing Nilus presageth famine.
Iras. Go, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
Char. Nay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear.-Pr’ythee, tell her but a work-day fortune.
Sooth. Your fortunes are alike.
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.-0! 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 sorrow to behold a foul knave uncuckolded : therefore, dear Isis, keep decorum, and fortune him accordingly!
1 fertile: in f. e. ; foretell : in folio.
Alex. Lo, now! if it lay in their hands to make me a cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but they'd do 't.
Eno. Hush ! here comes Antony.
Not he, the queen.
Cleo. He was dispos’d to mirth ; but on the sudden, A Roman thought hath struck him.-Enobarbus !-
CHARMIAN, Soothsayer, and Attendants. Mess. Fulvia, thy wife, first came into the field. Ant. Against my brother Lucius ?
Mess. Ay: But soon that war had end, and the time's state Made friends of them, jointing their force'gainst Cæsar; Whose better issue in the war, from Italy Upon the first encounter drave them. Ant.
Well, what worst ? Mess. The nature of bad news infests the teller.
Ant. When it concerns the fool, or coward.-On:
my lord ! Ant. Speak to me home, mince not the general tongue;
1 Seized. Vol. VIII.-2
Name Cleopatra as she is call'd in Rome;
[Exit. Ant. From Sicyon now the news ? Speak there. 1 Att. The man from Sicyon !- Is there such an one ? 2 Att. He stays upon your will. Ant.
Let him appear. These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,
Enter another Messenger.
2 Mess. Fulvia thy wife is dead.
Where died she ? 2 Mess. In Sicyon: Her length of sickness, with what else more serious Importeth thee to know, this bears. [Giving a Letter. Ant.
[Exit Messenger. There's a great spirit gone. Thus did I desire it: What our contempts do often hurl from us, We wish it ours again; the present pleasure, By repetition souring," does become The opposite of itself : she's good, being gone ; The hand would pluck her back, that shov'd her on. I must from this enchanting queen break off ; Ten thousand harms, more than the ills [ know, My idleness doth hatch.-How now !3 Enobarbus ! Enter ENOBARBUS.
! Eno. What's your pleasure, sir? Ant. I must with haste from hence.
Eno. Why, then, we kill 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 her die twenty
1 Ploughing our "quick winds” which dry the soil for the plough. 3 By revolution lowering: in f. e. 3 Dyce reads : Ho!
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 storms and tempests than almanacs 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 wonderful piece of work, which not to have been blessed withal would have discredited your travel.
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 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.
Ant. The business she hath broached in the state 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
i Expedition. i love : in folio.
The empire of the sea : our slippery people
I shall do it. (Exeunt.
Enter CLEOPATRA, CHARMIAN, IRAs, and ALEXAS.
I did not see him since.
Char. Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly, You do not hold the method to enforce The like from him. Cleo.
What should I do, I do not? Char. In each thing give him way, cross him in
nothing. Cleo. Thou teachest, like a fool, the way to lose him.
Char. Tempt him not so too far; I wish, forbear: In time we hate that which we often fear.
I am sick, and sullen.
Cleo. Help me away, dear Charmian, I shall fall:
Now, my dearest queen, -
What 's the matter?
1 An allusion to the ancient belief, that a horse hair laid into water, turned into a snake.