Abbildungen der Seite

Enter one of the Guard.

Here is a rural fellow,
That will not be denied your highness' presence;
He brings you figs.
Cleo. Let him come in.

How 29

poor an instrument

[Exit Guard. May do a noble deed! he brings me liberty. My resolution's plac'd, and I have nothing Of woman in me: Now from head to foot I am marble-constant: now the fleeting 30 No planet is of mine.


Re-enter Guard, with a Clown, bringing a Basket. Guard.

This is the man. Cleo. Avoid, and leave him. [Exit Guard. Hast thou the pretty worm 31 of Nilus there, That kills and pains not?

Clown. Truly I have him: but I would not be the party that should desire you to touch him, for his biting is immortal; those, that do die of it, do seldom or never recover.

Cleo. Remember'st thou any that bave died on't?
Clown. Very many, men and women too. I

[ocr errors]

29 The first folio has · What poor an instrument.' 30 Fleeting, or flitting, is changeable, inconstant :More variant than is the flitting lune.'

Walter's Guistard and Sismond, 1597. I am now (says Cleopatra) whole as the marble, founded as the rock,' and no longer inconstant and changeable, as woman oiten is.

31 Worm is used by our old writers to signify a serpent. The word is pure Saxon, and is still used in the north in the same sense. We have it still in the blind-worm and slow-worm. Shakspeare uses it several times. The notion of a serpent that caused death without pain was an ancient fable, and is here adopted with propriety. The worm of Nile was the asp of the ancients, which Dr. Shaw says is wholly unknown to us.

heard of one of them no longer than yesterday: a very honest woman, but something given to lie; as a woman should not do, but in the

way of honesty : how she died of the biting of it, what pain she felt. -Truly, she makes a very good report o'the worm: But he that will believe all that they say, shall never be saved by half that they do 32. But this is most fallible, the worm's an odd worm.

Cleo. Get thee hence; farewell.
Clown. I wish you all joy of the worm.
Cleo. Farewell. [Clown sets down the Basket.

Clown. You must think this, look you, that the worm will do his kind 33.

Cleo. Ay, ay; farewell.

Clown. Look you, the worm is not to be trusted, but in the keeping of wise people; for, indeed, there is no goodness in the worm.

Cleo. Take thou no care; it shall be heeded.

Clown. Very good : give it nothing, I pray you, for it is not worth the feeding.

Cleo. Will it eat me?

Clown. You must not think I am so simple, but I know the devil himself will not eat a woman: I know that a woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her not. But, truly, these same whoreson devils do the gods great harm in their women; for in every ten that they make, the devils mar five.

Cleo. Well, get thee gone; farewell.
Clown. Yes, forsooth; I wish you joy of the



32 Warburton observes that • Shakspeare's clowns are always jokers, and deal in sly satire :' but he would have all and half change places. I think with Steevens that the confusion was designed to heighten the humour of the clown's speech.

33 i. e. act according to his nature,

Re-enter IRAS, with a Robe, Crown, &c. Cleo. Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me 34: Now no more The juice of Egypt's grape shall moist this lip:Yare, yare 35, good Iras; quick.-Methinks, I hear Antony call; I see him rouse himself To praise my noble act; I hear him mock The luck of Cæsar, which the gods give men To excuse their after wrath : Husband, I come: Now to that name my courage prove my

title! I am fire, and air ; my other elements I give to baser life 36 -80,-have you done? Come then, and take the last warmth of my lips. Farewell, kind Charmian;-Iras, long farewell.

[Kisses them. IRAs falls and dies. Have I the aspick in my lips ? Dost fall 37 ? If thou and nature can so gently part, The stroke of death is as a lover's pinch, Which hurts, and is desir’d. Dost thou lie still? If thus thou vanishest, thou tell’st the world It is not worth leave-taking. Char. Dissolve, thick cloud, and rain; that I may

say, The gods themselves do weep! Cleo.

This proves me base : If she first meet the curled Antony, 34 From hence probably Addison in Cato:

• This longing after immortality.' 35 i. e. be nimble, be ready. See Act iii. Sc. 5, note 6.

36 Thus in King Henry V.:- He is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him.' Homer speaks as contemptuously of the grosser elements we spring from, Iliad vii. v. 99:

'Αλλ υμείς μεν πάντες ύδωρ και γαία γενoισθε. 37 Iras must be supposed to have applied an asp to her arm while her mistress was settling her dress, to account for her falling so soon.

He'll make demand of her; and spend that kiss, Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou mortal


[To the Asp, which she applies to her Breast.
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie ; poor venomous fool,
Be angry, and despatch. O, could'st thou speak!
That I might hear thee call great Cæsar, ass
Unpolicied 38 !

Char. O eastern star!

Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?

O, break! 0, break! Cleo. Assweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,O Antony !-Nay, I will take thee too;

[Applying another Asp to her Arm. What should I stay [Falls on a Bed, and dies.

Char. In this wild world ?-So, fare thee well. Now boast thee, death! in thy possession lies A lass unparalleld.—Downy windows, close 39; And golden Phæbus never be beheld Of eyes again so royal! Your crown's awry; I'll mend it, and then play 40.

Enter the Guard, rushing in. 1 Guard. Where is the queen? Char.

Speak softly, wake her not.

38 i. e. an ass without more wit or policy than to leave the means of death within my reach, and thereby defeat his own purpose.

39 Charmian may be supposed to close Cleopatra's eyes, the first melancholy office performed after death.

40 Charmian remembers the words uttered to her by ber beloved mistress just before :

when thou hast done this chare, I'll give thee leave, To play till doomsday.'

[ocr errors]

1 Guard. Cæsar hath sent-

Too slow a messenger.

[Applies the Asp. O, come; apace, despatch; I partly feel thee. 1 Guard. Approach, ho! All's not well : Cæsar's

beguild. 2 Guard. There's Dolabella sent from Cæsar:

call him. 1 Guard. What work is here ?—Charmian, is this

well done? Char. It is well done, and fitting for a princess Descended of so many royal kings. Ah, soldier!



Dol. How goes it here? 2 Guard.

All dead. Dol.

Cæsar, thy thoughts Touch their effects in this : Thyself art coming To see perform’d the dreaded act, which thou So sought'st to hinder.

Within. A way there, a way for Cæsar!

Enter CÆSAR, and Attendants.
Dol. O, sir, you are too sure an augurer;
That did fear, is done.

Bravest at the last: She levelld at our purposes, and, being royal, Took her own way.

The manner of their deaths ? I do not see them bleed. Dol.

Who was last with them? 1 Guard. A simple countryman, that brought her

figs; This was his basket.

« ZurückWeiter »