Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lys. To whom does your dread majesty be- | If, by unwearied toil, I have deserved queath

The vast renown of thy adopted son, The empire of the world?

Accept this soul, which thou didst first inspire, Aler. To him that is most worthy.

And which this sigh thus gives thee back again. Perd. When will you, sacred sir, that we should

[Dies. give

Lys. Eumenes, cover the fallen majesty; To your great memory those divine honours, If there be treason, let us find it out; Which such exalted virtue does deserve ?

Lysimachus stands forth to lead you on, Aler. When you are all most happy, and in And swears, by these most honoured dear remains, peace.

He will not taste those joys which beauty brings, Your hands - O father, if I have discharged Till we revenge the greatest, best of kings. Rises.

{Exeunt omnes. The duty of a man to empire born;

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

4

Tossed up

and one,

SCENE I.-The Temple of Isis. Sea-horses, foundering in the slimy mud,

their heads, and dashed the ooze about Serapion, and Myris, Priests of Isis, discovered.

them. Ser. PORTENTS and prodigies are grown so frequent,

Enter ALEXAs behind them. That they have lost their name. Our fruitful Myr. Avert these omens, Heaven ! Nile

Ser. Last night, between the hours of twelve Flowed, ere the wonted season, with a torrent So unexpected, and so wondrous fierce, In a lone aisle of the temple while I walked, That the wild deluge overtook the haste A whirlwind rose, that, with a violent blast, Even of the hịnds, that watched it. Men and Shook all the dome; the doors around me clapt; beasts

The iron wicket, that defends the vault,
Were borne above the tops of trees, that grew Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid,
On the utmost margin of the water-mark: Burst open, and disclosed the mighty dead:
Then with so swift an ebb the flood drove back- From out each monument, in order placed,
ward,

An armed ghost starts up; the boy-king last
It slipt from underneath the scaly herd: Reared his inglorious head: a peal of groans
Here monstrous phocæ panted on the shore; Then followed, and a lamentable voice
Forsaken dolphins there, with their broad tails, Cried, · Egypt is no more.' My blood ran back,
Lay lashing the departing waves; hard by them My shaking knees against each other knocked,

On the cold pavement down I fell entranced, Whom, would she yet forsake, yet yield him up, And so unfinished left the horrid scene !

This hunted prey, to his pursuer's hands, Aler. And dreamt you this, or did invent the She might preserve us all : but 'tis in vainstory,

(Shewing himself. This changes my designs, this blasts my counsels, To frighten our Egyptian boys withal,

And makes me use all means to keep him here, And train them up betimes in fear of priesthood? Whom I could wish divided from her arms Ser. My lord, I saw you not,

Far as the earth's deep centre. Well, you know Nor meant my words should reach your ears; The state of things: no more of your ill omens but what

And black prognostics; labour to confirm
I uttered was most true.

The people's hearts.
Aler. A foolish dreamn,
Bred from the fumes of indigested feasts

Enter VENTIDIUS, talking aside with a gentleAnd holy luxury.

man of Antony's. Ser. I know my duty:

Ser. These Romans will o'erhear us. This goes no farther.

But who's that stranger? by his warlike port, Aler. Tis not fit it should,

His fierce demeanor, and erected look,
Nor would the times now bear it, were it true. He is of no vulgar note.
All southern from yon hills the Roman camp Alex. Oh, 'tis Ventidius,
Hangs o'er us black and threatening, like a storm Our emperor's great lieutenant in the east,
Just breaki ng on our heads.

Who first shewed Rome, that Parthia could be Ser. Our faint Egyptians pray for Antony,

conquered. But in their servile hearts they own Octavius. When Antony returned from Syria last, Myr. Why, then, does Antony dream out his He left this man to guard the Roman frontiers. hours,

Ser. You seem to know him well. And tempts not fortune for a noble day,

Aler. Too well. I saw him in Cilicia first, Which might redeem what Actium lost? When Cleopatra there met Antony: Aler. He thinks 'tis past recovery.

A mortal foe he was to us and Egypt. Ser. Yet the foe

But let me witness to the worth I hate; Seems not to press the siege,

A braver Roman never drew a sword : Aler. Oh, there's the wonder.

Firm to his prince, but as a friend, not slave : Mecænas and Agrippa, who can most

He ne'er was of his pleasures, but presides With Cæsar, are his foes. His wife, Octavia, O'er all his cooler hours, and morning counsels : Driven from his house, solicits her revenge ; In short, the plainness, fierceness, rugged virtue And Dolabella, who was once his friend, Of an old true stampt Roman lives in him. Upon some private grudge now seeks his ruin; His coming bodes, I know not what, of ill Yet still war seems on either side to sleep. To our affairs. Withdraw, to mark him better, Ser. "Tis strange, that Antony, for some days And I'll acquaint you why I sought you here, past,

And what is our present work. Has not beheld the face of Cleopatra,

[They withdraw to a corner of the stage, and But here in Isis temple lives retired,

VENTIDIUS, with the other, comes forward And makes his heart a prey to black despair. to the front. Aler. Tis true; and we much fear he hopes,

Vent. Not see him, say you? by absence,

I say I must, and wilí. To cure his mind of love.

Gent. He has commanded, Ser. If he be vanquished,

On pain of death, none should approach his pre-
Or make his peace, Egypt is doomed to be
A Roman province, and our plenteous harvests Vent. I bring him news, will raise his drooping
Must then redeem the scarceness of their soil.

spirits,
While Antony stood firin, our Alexandria Give him new life.
Rivalled proud Rome (dominion's other seat), Gent. He sees not Cleopatra.
And fortune striding, like a vast Colossus,

Vent. Would he had never seen her!
Could fix an equal foot of empire here.

Gent. He eats not, drinks not, sleeps not, has Aler. Had I my wish, these tyrants of all nature,

Of any thing but thought; or if he talks, Who lord it o'er mankind, should perish, perish, 'Tis to himself, and then 'tis perfect raving ; Each by the other's sword; but since our will Then he defies the world, and bids it pass. Is lamely followed by our power, we must Sometimes he gnaws his lips, and curses loud Depend on one, with him to rise or fall. The boy Octavius; then he draws his mouth Ser. How stands the queen affected?

Into a scornful smile, and cries, • Take all ! Aler, Oh, she doats,

The world is not worth my care.' She doats, Serapion, on this vanquished man, Vent. Just, just his nature. And winds herself about his mighty ruins, Virtue is his path, but sometimes 'tis too narrow

sence.

no use

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

For his vast soul, and then he starts out wide, Can any Roman see and know him now,
And bounds into a vice, that bears him far Thus altered from the lord of half mankind,
From his first course, and plunges him in ills : Unbent, unsinewed, made a woman's toy,
But when his danger makes him find his fault, Shrunk from the vast extent of all his honours,
Quick to observe, and full of sharp remorse, And crampt within a corner of the world?
He censures eagerly his own misdeeds,

Oh, Antony !
Judging himself with malice to himself,

Thou bravest soldier, and thou best of friends! And not forgiving what as man he did,

Bounteous as nature, next to nature's God! Because his other parts are more than man. Couldst thou but make new worlds, so wouldst He must not thus be lost.

thou give them, [Alexas and the priests come forward. As bounty were thy being. Rough in battle Aler. You have your full instructions; now ad- As the first Romans, when they went to war, vance;

Yet, after victory, more pitiful Proclaim your orders loudly.

Than all their praying virgins left at home! Ser. Romans! Egyptians ! hear the queen's Aler. Would you could add to those more command.

shining virtues, Thus Cleopatra bids: Let labour cease;

His truth to her, who loves him,
To pomp and triumphs give this happy day, Vent. Would I could not !
That gave the world a lord; 'tis Antony's. But wherefore waste I precious hours with thee?
Live Antony, and Cleopatra live!

Thou art her darling mischief, her chief engine,
Be this the general voice sent up to heaven, Antony's other fate. Go tell thy queen,
And every public place repeat this echo, Ventidius is arrived to end her charms.
Vent. l'ine pageantry !

[Aside. Let your Egyptian timbrels play alone, Ser. Set out before your doors

Nor mix effeminate sounds with Roman trumpets. The images of all your sleeping fathers,

You dare not fight for Antony; igo pray, With laurels crowned; with laurels wreath your And keep your cowards' holiday in temples. posts,

[Ereunt Aler. Serap. And strew with flowers the pavement; let the priest

Re-enter the Gentleman of Marc Antony, Do present sacrifice, pour out the wine,

2 Gent. The emperor approaches, and comAnd call the gods to join with you in gladness.

mands, Vent. Curse on the tongue that bids this ge-On pain of death, that none presume to stay. neral joy!

1 Gent. I dare not disobey him. Can they be friends to Antony, who revel

(Going out with the other, When Antony's in danger? Hide, for shame, Vent. Well, I dare : You Romans, your great grandsires' images, Bat I'll observe him first, unseen, and find For fear their souls should animate their marbles, which way his humour drives : the rest I'll renTo blush at their degenerate progeny.

ture.

[Withdraws. Aler. A love, which knows no bounds to An

Enter Antony, walking with a disturbed motony, Would mark the day with honours; when all

tion before he speaks. Heaven

Ant. They tell me, 'tis my birth-day; and I'll Laboured for him, when each propitious star

keep it Stood wakeful in his orb to watch that hour, With double pomp of sadness : And shed his better influence : her own birth-day Tis what the day deserves, which gave me breath. Our queen neglected, like a vulgar fate, Why was I raised the meteor of the world, That passed obscurely by.

Hung in the skies, and blazing as I travelled, Vent. Would it had slept

Till all my fires were spent, and then cast downDivided far from his, till some remote

ward, And future age had called it out to ruin To be trod out by Cæsar? Some other prince, not him!

Vent. Aside] On my soul Aler. Your emperor,

'Tis mournful, wondrous mournful! Tho' grown unkind, would be more gentle than Ant. Count thy gains To upbraid my qucen for loving him too well. Now, Antony; wouldst thou be born for this? Vent. Does the mute sacrifice upbraid the Glutton of fortune, thy'devouring youth priest?

Has starved thy wanting age. Ile knows him not his executioner.

Vent. [Aside] How sorrow shakes him! Oh! she has decked his ruin with her love, So, now the tempest tears him up by the roots, Led him in golden bands to gaudy slaughter, And on the ground extends the noble ruin. And made perdition pleasing : she has left him Ant. (Having thrown himself down] Lie there, The blank of what he was.

thou shadow of an emperor; I tell thee, eunuch, she has quite unmanned him : The place, thou pressest on thy mother earth,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Is all thy empire now : now it contains thee; My mother comes afresh into my eyes :
Some few days hence, and then 'twill be too large, I cannot help her softness.
When thou art contracted in thy narrow urn, Ant. By heaven he weeps ! Poor good old man,
Shrunk to a few cold ashes; then Octavia,

he weeps! (For Cleopatra will not live to see it)

The big round drops course one another down Octavia then will have thee all her own, The furrows of his cheeks. Stop them, Ventidius, And bear thee in her widowed hand to Cæsar; Or I shall blush to death; they set my shame, Cæsar will weep, the crocodile will weep, That caused them, full before me. To see his rival of the universe

Vent. I'll do my best. Lie still and peaceful there. I'll think no more Ant. Sure there's contagion in the tears of of it.

friends; Give me some music; look, that it be sad. See, I have caught it too. Believe me 'tis not I'll soothe my melancholy, till I swell

For my own griefs but thine-Nay, fatherAnd burst myself with sighing [Soft music.

Vent. Emperor. 'Tis somewhat to my humour. Stay, I fancy Ant. Emperor! why that's the style of vicI'm now turned wild, a commoner of nature;

tory: Of all forsaken, and forsaking all,

The conquering soldier, red with unfelt wounds, Live in a shady forest's sylvan scene,

Salutes his general so; but never more Stretched at my length beneath some blasted Shall that sound reach my ears. oak,

Vent. I warrant you. I lean my head upon the mossy bark,

Ant. Actium, Actium! OhAnd look just of a piece as I grew from it:

Vent. It sits too near you. My uncombed locks, matted like misletoe, Ant. Here, here it lies, a lump of lead by day, Hang o'er my hoary face; a murmuring brook And, in my short distracted nightly slumbers, Runs at my foot

The hag, that rides my dreamsVent. Methinks I fancy

Vent. Out with it; give it vent. Myself there too.

Ant. Urge not my shame-
Ant. The herd come jumping by me,

I lost a battle.
And fearless quench their thirst, while I look on, Vent. So has Julius done.
And take me for their fellow-citizen.

Ant. Thou favourest me, and speakest not half More of this image, more; it lulls my thoughts. thou thinkest;

[Soft music again. For Julius fought it out, and lost it fairly; Vent. I must disturb him : I can hold no lon- But Antonyger.

Stands before him. Vent. Nay, stop not. Ant. (Starting up] Art thou Ventidius ?

Ant. Antony Vent. Are you Antony?

(Well, thou wilt have it) like a coward Aled, I'm liker what I was than you to him

Fled, while his soldiers fought; fled first, VentiI left

you
last.

dius. Ant. I'm angry.

Thou longest to curse me, and I give thee leave; Vent. So am I.

I know thou camest prepared to rail. Ant. I would be private. Leave me.

Vent. I did. Vent. Sir, I love you,

Ant. I'll help thee I have been a man, VenAnd therefore will not leave you.

tidius. Ant. Will not leave me !

Vent. Yes, and a brave one; but-
Where have you learnt that answer? Who am I? Ant. I know thy meaning.
Vent. My emperor ; the man I love next But I have lost my reason, have disgraced
heaven:

The name of soldier with inglorious ease;
If I said more, I think 'twere scarce a sin: In the full vintage of my flowing honours
You're all that's good and godlike.

Sat still, and saw it prest by other hands; Ant. All that's wretched.

Fortune came smiling to my youth, and wooed it, You will not leave me then?

And purple greatness met my ripened years. Vent. 'Twas too presuming

When first I came to empire, I was borne To say I would not; but I dare not leave you ; On tides of people, crowding to my triumphs, And 'tis unkind in you to chide me hence The wish of nations, and the willing world So soon, when I so far have come to see you.

Received me as its pledge of future peace. Ant. Now thou hast seen me, art thou satis- I was so great, so happy, so beloved, fied?

Fat? could not ruin me, till I took pains, For, if a friend, thou hast beheld enough, And worked against my fortune, chid her front And, if a foe, too much.

me, Vent. Look, emperor, this is no common dew: And turned her loose; yet still she came again.

[Weeping. My careless days, and my luxurious nights, i have not wept this forty years; but now Ať length have wearied her, and now she's gone,

« PreviousContinue »