« PreviousContinue »
his utter destruction. When she knew his galley a farre from.this overthrow, who brought newes, that his army off, she lift up a signe in the poope of her ship, and so by sea was overthrowne, but that they thought the army Antonius comming to it, was pluckt up where Cleopatra by land was yet whole." was: howbeit he saw her not at his first comming, nor she him, but went and sate downe alone in the prow of his (5) SCENE XIII.--Hence with thy stripes, begone !) “Furship, and said never a word, clapping his head betweene thermore, Cæsar would not grant unto Antonius requests : both his hands. In the meane time came certaine light but for Cleopatra, he made her answer, that he would deny brigantines of Cæsars, that followed him hard. her nothing reasonable, so that she would either put AntoAntonius straight turned the prow of his ship, and nius to death, or drive him out of her country. Therepresently put the rest to flight, saving one Eurycles a withal he sent Thyreus one of his men unto her, a very LACEDÆMONIAN, that followed him neare, and pressed wise and discreet man : who bringing letters of credite upon him with great courage, shaking a dart in his hand from a young Lord unto a noble Ladie, and that besides over the prow, as though he would have throwne it unto greatly liked her beauty, might easily by his eloquence Antonius. Antonius seeing him, came to the fore-castell have perswaded her. He was longer in talke with her then of his ship, and asked him what he was that durst follow any man else was, and the Queene her selfe also did him Antonius so neare? I am, answered he, Eurycles the son great honour : insomuch as he made Antonius iealous of of Lachares, who through Cæsars good fortune seeketh to him. Whereupon Antonius caused him to be taken and revenge the death of my father. This Lachares was well favouredly whipped, and so sent him unto Cæsar: and condemned of fellonie, and beheaded by Antonius. But bad him tell him, that he made him angrie with him, yet Eurycles durst not venture upon Antonius ship, but because he shewed himselfe proud and disdainefull towards set upon the other Admirall galley (for there were two :) him ; and now specially, when he was easie to be angred, and fell upon him with such a blow of his brazen spurre by reason of his present misery. To be short, if this misthat was so heavy and bigge, that he turned her round, like thee (said he) thou hast Hipparchus one of my enfranand tooke her, with another that was loden with very rich chised bondmen with thee: hang him if thou wilt, or stuffe and cariage. After Eurycles had left Antonius, he whippe him at thy pleasure, that we may cry quittance. turned againe to his place, and sate downe, speaking From henceforth Cleopatra, to cleare her selfe of the susnever a word, as he did before : and so lived three dayes pition he had of her, made more of him than ever she did. alone, without speaking to any man. But when he For first of all, where she did solemnize the day of her arrived at the head of Tænarus, there Cleopatraes women birth very meanely and sparingly, fit for her present misfirst brought Antonius and Cleopatra to speake together, fortune, she now in contrary manner did keepe it with such and afterwards to sup and lie together. Then began solemnity, that she exceeded all measure of sumptuousnes there againe a great number of merchants ships to gather and magnificence : so that the guests that were bidden to. about them, and some of their friends that had escaped the feasts, and came poore, went away rich."
(1) SCENE VIII.
I'll give thee, friend, An armour all of gold; it was a king's.] “ Then he came againe to the pallace, greatly boasting of this victory, and sweetly kissed Cleopatra, armed as he was when he came from the fight, recommending one of his men of armes unto her, that had valiantly fought in this skirmish. Cleopatra to reward his manlinesse, gave him an armor and head peece of cleane gold: howbeit the man at armes when he had received this rich gift, stole away by night and went to Cæsar. Antonius sent again to challenge Cæsar, to fight with him hande to hande. Casar aunswered him, That he had many other waies to dye then so. Then Antonius seeing there was no way more honorable for him to dye, then fighting valiantly, he determined to set up his rest, both by sea and land. So being at supper (as is reported) he commaunded his officers and household servants that waited on him at his boord, that they should fill his cuppes full, and make as muche of him as they could : for said he, you know not whether you shall do so much for me to morrow or not, or whether you shall serve another maister: and it may be you shall see me no more, but a dead bodie. This notwithstanding, perceeving that his frends and men fell a weeping to heare him say so: to salve that he had spoken, he added this more unto it that he would leade them to battell, where he thought rather safely to returne with victory, then valiantly to die with honour. Further more the selfe same night within a little of midnight, when all the city was quiet, full of feare and sorrow, thinking what would be the issue and ende of this warre, it is said, that sodainly they heard a marvellous sweete harmony of sundry sorts of instruments of musicke, with the crie of a multitude of people, as they had been dauncing, and had sung as they use in Bacchus feastes."
(2) SCENE XIV. Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish.] To the instances of a similar thought, which are given in the Variorum, may be added the following, from a curious black-letter volume, entitled “A most pleasant Prospect into the Garden of Naturall Contemplation, to behold the Naturall Causes of all kind of Meteors : &c. &c. by W. Fulke, Doctor of Divinitie. 1602.” “Flying Dragons, or as Englishmen call them, fire-Drakes, be caused on this maner. When a certayne quantitie of vapors are gathered together on a heap being very neere compact, and as it were hard tempered together, this lump of vapors ascending to ye region of cold, is forcibly beaten backe, which violence of moving is sufficient to kindle it (although some men wil have it to be caused between 2 cloudes, a hote and a cold) then the highest part which was climing upward, being by reason more subtil and thin, appeareth as the Dragon's neck, smoking, for yt it was lately in the repulse bowed or made crooked, to represent the Dragon's belly. The last part by ye same repulse, turned upward, maketh the tayle, both appearing smaller, for yt it is further off, and also for that the cold bindeth it. This Dragon being thus caused, flieth along in ye ayre, and sometime turneth to and fro, if it meet with a cold clou l to beat it back, to ye great terrour of them that behold it, of whome some call it a fire Drake: some say it is the Devill himselfe, and so make report to other. More than 47 yeeres agoe, on May day, when many young folke went abroad early in the morning, I remember, by sixe of the clocke in the forenoone, there was newes came to London, that the Devill, the same morning, was seene flying over the Temmes : afterward came word, that hee lighted at Stratford, and was there taken and set in the Stockes, and that though he would have dissembled the matter, hy turning himselfe into the like wesse of a man, yet was hee knowne well yenough by his cloven feete. Í knew some then living, that went to see him, and returning,
affirmed, that hee was indeede seene flying in the ayre, laide : and when he came somewhat to himselfe againe, la but was not taken prisoner. I remember also, that some prayed them that were about him, to dispatch him. Bd wished he had bene shot at with Gunnes or shafts, as hee they all fled out of the chamber, and left him crying flew over the Temmes. Thus doe ignorant men iudge of tormenting himselfe: untill at the last there came a Serrethese things that they know not. As for this Divell, I tarie unto him (called Diomedes) who was commanded to suppose it was a flying Dragon, whereof wee speake, verie bring him into the tomb or monument where Cleo*** fearfull to looke upon, as though hee had life, because hee was. When he heard that she was alive, he very earnesty moveth, whereas hee is nothing else but clowdes and smoake, prayed his men to carie his body thither, and so he was so mightie is God, that hee can feare his enemies with these caried in his mens armes into the entry of the monument and such like operations, whereof some examples may bee Notwithstanding, Cleopatra would not open the gates, but found in holy Scripture."
came to the high windowes, and cast out certaine chaire
and ropes, in the which Antonius was trussed : and (ies (3) SCENE XV.
patra her owne selfe, with two women onely, which ste
had suffered to come with her into these monumeron a Roman by a Roman
trised Antonius up. They that were present to beholt Valiantly vanquish'd.]
said they never saw so pitifull a sight. For they plaets
up poore Antonius all bloudie as he was, and drawing: " Then she being affraid of his furie, fled into the tombe with pangs of death : who holding up his hands to which he had caused to be made, and there she locked the patra, raisod up himselfe as well as he could. It was a doores unto her, & shut all the springs of the lockes with hard thing for these women to do, to lift him up: bai great bolts, and in the meane time sent unto Antonius to Cleopatra stooping down with her head, putting too all be tell him, that she was dead. Antonius beleeving it, said strength to her uttermost power, did lift him up with unto himselfe: What doest thou looke for further, Anto much ado, and never let go her hold, with the helpe of : nius, sith spitefull fortune hath taken from thee the only women beneath that bad her be of good courage, & we? ioy thou hadst, for whom thou yet reservedst thy life? as sory to see her labour so, as she her selfe. So when som When he had said these words, he went into a chamber & had gotten him in after that sort, and laid him on a bei unarmed himself, & being naked, said thus: 0 Cleopatra, she rent her garments upon him, clapping her breast, ap. it grieveth me not that I have lost thy company, for I wil scratching her face and stomacke. Then she dried up t. not be long from thee: but I am sory, that having bene so bloud that had bewrayed his face, & called him her Lrr.. great a Captaine & Emperor, I am indeed condemned to be her husband, & Emperor, forgetting her own misery u. iudged of lesse courage and noble mind then a woman. calamity, for the pity and compassion she took of hin, Now he had a man of his called Eros, whom he loved and Antonius made her ceasse her lamenting, & called for sin, trusted much, and whom he had long before caused to either because he was a thirst, or else for that he thought sweare unto him, that he should kill him when he did thereby to hasten his death. When he had drunke, he command him: and then he willed him to keepe his earnestly prayed her, and perswaded her, that she woal. promise. His man drawing his sword, lift it up as though seeke to save her life, if she could possible, without reproch he had ment to have stricken his master : but turning his & dishonour : and that chiefly she should trust Proceless head at one side, he thrust his sword into himselfe, and above any man else about Cæsar. And as for himselie, fell downe dead at his masters foote, Then said Antonius : that she should not lament nor sorow for the miserable O noble Eros, I thanke thee for this, and it is valiantly change of his fortune at the end of his daies : but rather done of thee, to shew me what I should do to my selfe, that she should thinke him the more fortunate, for the which thou couldest not doe for me. Therowithall he former triumphes and honors he had received ; consideriuz tooke his sword, and thrust it into his belly, and so fell that while he lived, he was the noblest & greatest Prince downe upon a little bed. The wound he had, killed him of the world ; and that now, he was overcome, not cowanir. not presently, for the bloud stinted a litle when he was but valiantly, a Romaine by another RoMAINE."
favour and mercy upon me. Cæsar was glad to heare her say so, perswading himselfe thereby that she had get a desire to save her life. So he made her answer, that he did not only give her that to dispose of at her pleasure, which she had kept back, but further promised to use her more honourably and bountifully, then she would thinke for: and so he took his leare of her, supposing he had deceived her, but indeed he was deceived himselfe.".
(1) SCENE II.
Put we i' the roll of conquest.]
(2) SCENE II.
It is well done, and fitting for a princess
Descended of so many royal kings.] “There was a yong Gentleman Cornelius Dolabella, that was one of Cæsars very great familiars, and besides did beare no ill will unto Cleopatra. He sent her word secretly (as she had requested him) that Cæsar determined to take his iourny through Syria, & that within three daies he would send her away before with her children. When this was told Cleopatra, she requested Cæsar that it would please him to suffer her to offer the last oblations of the dead, unto the soule of Antonius. This being granted her, she was caried to the place where his tombe
was, and there falling downe on her knees, embracing the whilest she was at dinner, there came a countriman and tombe with her women, the teares running downe her brought her a basket. The souldiers that warded at the cheeks, she began to speak in this sort : O my dearegates, asked him straight what he had in his basket. He Lord Antonius, it is not long sithence I buried thee here, opened his basket, and tooke out the leaves that covered being a free woman : & now I offer unto thee the funerall the figs, and shewed them that they were figs he brought. sprinklings and oblations, being a captive and prisoner ; They all of them marvelled to see so goodly figges. The and yet I am forbidden and kept from tearing and untrieman laughed to heare them, and bad them take murthering this captive body of mine with blowes, which some if they would. They beleeved he told them truly, they carefully guard and keepe, onely to triumph of thee : and so bad him carie them in. After Cleopatra had dined, looke therefore henceforth for no other honors, offerings, she sent a certaine table written and sealed unto Cæsar, nor sacrifices from me: for these are the last which and commanded them all to go out of the tombes where Cleopatra can give thee, sith now they carie her away, she was, but the two women; then she shut the doores to Whilest we lived together, nothing could sever our her. Cæsar when he received this table, and began to companies : but now at our death, I feare me they will reade her lamentation and petition, requesting him that he make us change our countries. For as thou being a would let her be buried with Antonius, found straight what ROMAIN, hast bene buried in ÆGYPT ; even so wretched she meant, and thought to have gone thither himselfe : creature I an ÆGYPTIAN, shall be buried in ITALY, which | howbeit, he sent one before in all hast that might be, to shall be all the good that I have received by thy country. see what it was. Her death was very sodaine : for those If therefore the gods where thou art now have any power whom Cæsar sent unto her, ran thither in all hast possible, & authority, sith our gods here have forsaken us, suffer and found the souldiers standing at the gate, mistrusting not thy true friend and lover to be caried away aliv nothing, nor understanding of her death. But when they that in me they triumph of thee: but receive me with had opened the doores, they found Cleopatra starke dead, thee, and let me be buried in one selfe tombe with thee. laid upon a bed of gold, attired and arrayed in her royall For though my griefes and miseries be infinit, yet none robes, and one of her two women, which was called Iras, bath grieved me more, nor that I could lesse beare dead at her feet: and her other woman (called Charmion) withall, then this small time which I have bene driven half dead, & trembling, trimming the Diademe which to live alone without thee. Then having ended these Cleopatra wore upon her head. One of the soldiers seeing dolefull plaints, and crowned the tombe with garlands her, angrily said unto her: Is that well done Charmion? & sundry nosegayes, and marvellous lovingly embraced Very well, said she againe, and meete for a Princesse the same, she commanded they should prepare her descended from the race of so many noble Kings: she bath; and when she had bathed and washed herselfe, she said no more, but fel down dead hard by the bed." fell to her meate, and was sumptuously served. Now
« « ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA' may, in some measure, be considered as a continuation of Julius Cæsar: the two principal characters of Antony and Augustus are equally sustained in both pieces. Antony and Cleopatra' is a play of great extent ; the progress is less simple than in ‘Julius Cæsar.' The fulness and variety of political and warlike events, to which the union of the three divisions of the Roman world under one master necessarily gave rise, were perhaps too great to admit of being clearly exhibited in one dramatic picture. In this consists the great difficulty of the historical drama :-it must be a crowded extract, and a living development of history ;-the difficulty, however, has generally been successfully overcome by Shakspeare. But now many things, which are transacted in the background, are here merely alluded to, in a manner which supposes an intimate acquaintance with the history ; but a work of art should contain, within itself, everything necessary for its being fully understood. Many persons of historical importance are merely introduced in passing ; the preparatory and concurring circumstances are not sufficiently collected into masses to avoid distracting our attention. The principa} personages, however, are most emphatically distinguished by lineament and colouring, and powerful arrest the imagination. In Antony we observe a mixture of great qualities, weaknesses, and vices; violent ambition and ebullitions of magnanimity; we see him now sinking into luxurious enjoyment, and then nobly ashamed of his own aberrations,-manning himself to resolutions not unworthy of himself, which are always shipwrecked against the seductions of an artful woman. It is Hercules in the chains of Omphale, drawn from the fabulous heroic ages into history, and invested with the Romaa costume. The seductive arts of Cleopatra are in no respect veiled over ; she is an ambiguous being made up of royal pride, female vanity, luxury, inconstancy, and true attachment. Although the mutual passion of herself and Antony is without moral dignity, it still excites our sympathy as an insurmountable fascination :—they seem formed for each other, and Cleopatra is as remarkable for her seductive charms, as Antony for the splendour of his deeds. As they die for each other, we forgive them for having lived for each other. The open and lavish character of Antony is admirably contrasted with the heartless littleness of Octavius, whom Shakspeare seems to have completely seen through, without allowing himself to be led astray by the fortune and the fame of Augustus.”-SCHLEGEL,
“ The highest praise, or rather form of praise, of this play which I can offer in my own mind, is the doubt which the perusal always occasions in me, whether the 'Antony and Cleopatra' is not, in a exhibitions of a giant power in its strength and vigour of maturity, a formidable rival of Macbeth, 'Lear,''Hamlet,' and 'Othello.' Feliciter audax is the motto for its style, comparatively with that of Shakspeare's other works, even as it is the general motto of all his works compared with those of other poets. Be it remembered, too, that this happy valiancy of style is but the representative and result of all the material excellencies so expressed.
“This play should be perused in mental contrast with ‘ Romeo and Juliet,'—as the love of passion and appetite opposed to the love of affection and instinct. But the art displayed in the character of Cleopatra is profound ; in this, especially,--that the sense of criminality in her passion is lessened by our insight into its depth and energy, at the very moment that we cannot but perceive that the passion itself springs out of the habitual craving of a licentious nature, and that it is supported and reinforced by voluntary stimulus and sought-for associations, instead of blossoming out of spontaneous emotion.
"Of all Shakspeare's historical plays, 'Antony and Cleopatra' is by far the most wonderful. There is not one in which he has followed history so minutely, and yet there are few in which he impresses the notion of angelic strength so much,-perhaps none in which he impresses it more strongly. This is greatly owing to the manner in which the fiery force is sustained throughout, and to the numerous momentary flashes of nature counteracting the historic abstraction. As a wonderful specimen of the way in which Shakspeare lives up to the very end of this play, read the last part of the concluding scene ; and if you would feel the judgment as well as the genius of Shakspeare in your heart's core, compare this astonishing drama with Dryden's 'All for Love.""-COLERIDGE.