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Loath to wade through, and loather to go round:
Then dipping in his staff, does trial make
How deep it is, and, sighing, pulls it back :
Sometimes resolved to fetch his leap; and then
Runs to the bank, but there stops short again.
So I at once
Both heavenly faith and human fear obey;
And feel before me in an unknown way.
For this best voyage I with joy prepare,
Yet am ashamed to be a stranger there.
Scene between Mark Antony and Ventidius, his general.
Dryden says he preferred this scene to anything which he had written of that
kind. It occurs in the first act of ' All for Love,' a tragedy founded on the story of
Antony and Cleopatra, and avowedly written in imitation of Shakspeare. 'All for
Love' was the only play Dryden ever wrote for himself; the rest, he says, were given
to the people. It will be observed that this scene, as also that between Dorax and
Sebastian, is copied from the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius in “ Julius Cæsar.'
ANTONY. They tell me 'tis my birthday, and I'll keep it
With double pomp of sadness.
'Tis what the day deserves which gave me breath.
Why was I raised the meteor of the world,
Hung in the skies, and blazing as I travelled,
Till all my fires were spent, and then cast downward
To be troi out by Cæsar ?
VENTIDIUS. [A side.] On my soul
'Tis mournful, wondrous mournful !
Ant. Count thy gains,
Now, Antony: wouldst thou be born for this ?
Glutton of fortune, tly devouring youth
Has starved thy wanting age.
VENT. (A side.] How sorrow shakes him!
So now the tempest tears him by the roots,
And on the ground extends the noble ruin.
ANT. [Having thrown himself down.] Lie there, thou shadow of an!
The place thou pressest on thy mother-earth
Is all thy einpira now: now it contains thee;
Soine few days hence, and then 'twill be too large,
When thou 'rt contracted in thy n'arrow urn,
Shrunk to a few cold ashes; then Octavia-
For Cleopatra will not live to see it-
Octavia then will have thee all her own,
And bear thee in her widowed hand to Cæsar.
Cæsar will weep, the crocodile will weep,
To see his rival of the universe
Lie still and peaceful there. I'll think no more on 't,
Give me some music; look that it be sad ;
I'll soothe my melancholy, till I swell,
And burst inyself with sighing.
"Tis somewhat to my humour. Stay, I fancy
I'm now turned wiki, a commoner of nature;
Of all forenken, and forsaking all ;
Live in a shady for st's silvan scene;
Stretched at my length beneath some blasted oak,
I lean my head upon the mossy bark,
And look just of a piece, as I grew from it;
My uncombed locks, matted like mistletoe
Hang o'er my hoary face; a murm’ring brook
Ruus at my foot
VENT. Methinks I fancy
Myself there too.
Ant. The nerd come jumping by me,
And, fearless, quench their thirst, while I look on
And take me for their fellow-citizen,
More of this image; more ; it lulls my thoughts.
VENT. I must disturb him. I can hold no longer.
[Stands before hin, Ant. [Starting up.] Art thou Ventidius ?
VENT. Are you Antony ?
I'm liker what I was, than you to him
I left you last.
ANT. I'm angry.
VENT. So am I.
ANT. I would be private. Leave me,
VENT. Sir, I love you,
And therefore will not leave you.
ANT. Will not leave me !
Where have you learned that answer ? Who am II
VENT. My emperor; the man I love next heaven.
If I said more, I think 'twere scarce a sin :
You 're all that's good and godlike.
ANT. All that's wretched.
You will not leave me, then ?
VENT. 'Twas too presuming
To say I would not: but I dare not leave you;
And 'tis unkind in you to chide me hence
So soon, when I so far have come to see you.
ANT. Now thou hast seen me, art thou satisfied ? )
For, if a friend, thou hast beheld enough,
And, if a foe, too much.
Vent. Look, emperor; this is no common dew;
I have not wept this forty years ; but now
My mother comes afresh unto my eyes ;
I cannot help her softness.
Ant. By heaven, he weeps ! poor good old man, he weeps !)
The big round drops course.one another down
The furrows of his cheeks. Stop 'em, Ventidius,
Or I shall blush to death; they set my shame,
That caused 'em, full before me.
VENT. I'll do my best.
ANT. Sure there's contagion in the tears of friends ;I ,
See, I have caught it too. Believe me, 'tis not
For my own griefs, but thine Nay, father-
Ant. Emperor! Why, that's the style of victory,
The conquering soldier, and with unfelt wounds,
Salutes his general so: but never more
Shall that sound reach my ears.
VENT. I warrant you.
ANT. Actium, Actium! Oh
VENT. It sits too near you.
ANT. Here, here it lies; a lump of lead by day;
And in my short, distracted, nightly slumbers,
The hag that rides my dreams-
VENT. Out with it: give it vent.
ANT. Urge not my shame
I lost a battle.
VENT. So has Julius done.
Ant. Thou favor'st me, and speak'st pot half thou think'st.i
For Julius fought it out, and lost it fairly;
VENT. Nay, stop not.
Weil, thou wilt have it-like à coward, fled,
Fled while his soldiers fought! fed first, Ventidius,
Thou long'st to curse me, and I give thee leave.
I know thou canst prepared to rail.
VENT. I did.
ANT. I'll help thee--I have been a man, Ventidius.
VENT. Yes, and a brave one; but
ANT. I know thy meaning.
But I have lost my reason, have disgraced
The name of soldier withi inglorious ense;
In the full vintage of my flowing honours
Sat still, and saw it pressed by other hands.
Fortune came smiling to my youth, and wooed it.
And purple greatnes3 met my ripened years.
When first I came to empire, I was borne
On tide's of prople, crowding to my triumphs.
The wish of nations, and the willing world,
Received me as its pledge of fnture peace.
I was so great, so happy, so beloved, .
Fate could not ruin me; tiil I took paids,
And worked against my fortune, chid her from me,
And turned her loose: yet still she came again.
My careless days and my luxurious nights
At length have weari d her, and now she's gone;
Gone, gone, divorcer for ever. Help me, soldier,
To curse this madman, this industrious fool,
Who laboured to be wretched. Prythee, curse me.
VENT. You are too sensible already
Of what you've done: 100 conscious of your failings,
And like a scorpion, whipped by others first
To fury, sting yourself in mad revenge.
I would bring balm, and pour it in your wounds,
Cure your distemperud mind, and heal your fortunes.
ANT. I.know thou wouidst.
VENT. I will.
ANT. Ha, ha, ha, ha!
VENT. You laugh.
ANT. I do, to see oflicious love
Give cordials to the dead.
VENT. You would be lost, then ?
ANT, I am.
VENT. I say you are not. Try your fortune.
ANT. I have to the utmost. Dost thou think me desperate
Without just cause? No; when I found all lost
Beyond repair, I hid me from the world,
And learned to scow it here; which now I do
So heartily, I think it is not worth
The cost of keeping.
VENT. Casar thinks not so:
He'il thank you for the gist le could not take.
You would be killed like Tully, would you ?
Hold out your throat to Caesar, and clic tamely.
ANT. No, I can kill myself; and so resolve.
VENT. I can die with you, too, when time shall serve ;
But fortune calls upon us now to live,
To fight, to conquer.
ANT. Sure thou dream'st, Ventidius!
VENT, No; 'tis you dream; you sleep away your hours v. ii.-9
In desperate sloth, miscalled philosophy.
Up, up, for honour's sake ; twelve legions wait you,
And long to call you chief. By painful journeys
I led 'em patient both of heat and hunger,
Down from the Parthian marches to the Nile.
'Twill do you good to see their sunburnt faces,
Their scarred cheeks, and chopt bands; there's virtae in 'em;
They'll Bell those mangled limbs at dearer rates
Than yon trim bands can buy.
ANT. Where left you them?
VENT. I said in Lower Syria.
ANT. Bring 'em hither;
There may be life in these.
VENT. They will not come. Ant. Why didst thou mock my hopes wilh promised aida, To double my despair? They're inutinous.
VENT. Most firm and loyal.
ANT. Yet they will not march
To succour me. Oh, trifler !
VENT. They petition
You would make haste to head 'em.
ANT. I'm besieged.
VENT. There's but one way shut up. How came I hither?
Ant. I will not stir.
VENT. They would perhaps desire
A better reason.
ANT. I have never used
My soldiers to demand a reason of
My actions. Why did they refuse to march?
VENT. They said they would uot fight for Cleopatra.
ANT. What was 't they said ?
VENT. They said they would not fight for Cleopatra.
Why should they fight, indeed, to make her conquer,
And make you more a slave? To gain your kingdoms
Which, for a kiss, at your next midnight feast.
You 'll sell to her? Then she new-names her jewels,
And calls this diamond such or such a tax.
Each pendant in her ear shall be a province.
ANT. Ventidius, I allow yonr tongue free licence ✓
On all my other faults; but, on your life,
No word of Cleopatra; she deserves
More worlds than I cau lose.
VENT. Behold, your powers,
To whom you have intrusted humankind;
See Europe, Afric, Asia put in balance,
And all weighed down by one light, worthless woman!
I think the gods are Antonies, and give,
Like prodigals, this nether world away
To none but wasteful hande.
Ant. You grow presumptuous !
VENT. I take the privilege of plain love to speak.
Ant. Plain love ! plain arrogance! plain insolence!
Thy men are cowards, thou an envious traitor;
who, under seeming honesty, hath vented
The burden of thy rank o'erflowing fall.
Oh, that thou wert my equal; great in arms
As the first Cæsar was, that I might kill thee
Without stain to my honour!
VENT. You may kill me.
You have done more already-called me traitor-
ANT. Art thou not one ?
VENT. For shewing you yourself,
Which none else durst have done. But had I been
That name which I disdain to speak again,
I needed not have sought your abject fortunes,
Come to partake your fate, to die with you.
What hiudered me to 've led my conquering eagles
To fill Octavius' bands: I could have been
A traitor then, a glorious happy traitor,
And not have been so called.
ANT. Forgive me, soldier ;
I've been too passionate.
VENT. You thought me false :
Thought iny old age betrayed you. Kill me, sir :
Pray, kill nie; yet you need not; your unkindness
Has left your sword no work.
ANT. I did not think so;
I said it in my rage; pr’ythee, forgive me,
Why didat thou tempt my anger, by discovery
Of what I would not hear ?
VENT. No prince but you
Could merit that sincerity I used;
Nor durst another mau have ventured it;
But you, ere love misled your wandering eyes,
Were sure the chief and best of human race,
Framed in the very pride and boast of nature.
ANT. But Cleopatra-
Go on; for I can bear it now.
VENT. No more.
Ant. Thou dar'st not trust my passion; but thoa mayst:
Thou only lov'st, the rest have flattered me.
VENT. Heaven's blessing on your heart for that kind word. May I believe you love me? Speak again.
ANT. Indeed I do. Speak this, and this, and this.
Thy praises were unjust; but I'll deserve 'em,
And yet mend all. Do with me what thou wilt ;
Lead me to victory ; thou know'st the way.
VENT. And will you leave this
ANT. Pr’ythee, do not curse her,
And I will leave her; though, Heaven knows, I love
Beyond life, conquest, empire, all but honour:
But I will leave her.
VENT. That's my royal master.
And shall we fighi ?
ANT. I warrant thee, old soldier;
Thou shalt behold me once again in iron,
And, at the head of our oid troops, that beat
The Parthians, cry aloud, “Come, follow me.'
VENT. Oh, now I hear my emperor! In that word,
Octavius fell. Gods, let me see that day,
And, if I have ten years behind, take al;
I'll thank you for the exchange.
ANT. Oh, Cleopatra !
VENT. Again !
Ant. I've done. In that last sigh she went; !
Cæsar shall know what 'tis to force a lover
From all he holds most dear.
VENT. Methinks you breathe
Another soul; your looks are more divine:
You speak a hero, and you move a god.
ANT. Oh, thou hast fired me; my soul's up in arms,
And mans each part about me. Once again
That noble eagerness of fight has seized me;
That eagerness with which I darted upward