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MBITIOUS, brave, able, and enterprising, Marc Antony, takes rank among the foremost men of action of the second order: that is, of those who, possessing ability to achieve greatness, lack fortitude or the higher genius to use it wisely when obtained. The great criterion of excellence in all pursuits is power in repose; spontaneous, comprehensive, easy-working intellect: and in this cardinal quality the revelling Triumvir proves miserably wanting. While "the mighty Julius" lived, Marc Antony felt himself properly placed, as an active instrument in the hands of that great master-spirit; and under him, in Gaul and at Pharsalia, he served with willing vigour and fidelity. To the colder genius of Octavius, his dæmon, though "noble, high, unmatchable," when alone, yields involuntary homage, and "becomes a Fear, as being overpowered." Antony, in short, is one of those who need incessant stimulus to keep their minds in health; and he falls at length, like many other conquerors in war, some better and some worse, a weak and easy victim to himself, in the languid, trying times of peace.

Yet, after all, the victor of Philippi, the deserter of Actium, was no ordinary mortal. His faults and his virtues-his strong points and his weak ones-lie intermixed in glittering profusion; and Shakspere has achieved one of his greatest triumphs in the delineation of this splendid, though inconsistent, victim of ambition, love, and idleness. The pervading folly of the slave of pleasure is interspersed with intervals of self-reproach, of self-respect, and self-assertion.-Among the amiable traits in the character of Antony is his conduct on learning the defection of Enobarbus, his shrewd and long-devoted monitor. "My fortunes have corrupted honest men!" is his mild, pathetic exclamation; and his only rebuke to the repentant deserter, is to send his treasure, with "gentle adieus and greetings," after him, into the enemy's camp. Antony's anxiety, too, for the safety and welfare of his servants, after the ignominious flight from Actium, speaks something for the natural kindliness of his feelings: and altogether it would be difficult not to rejoice that a glimpse of former heroism and success precedes his final fall.

Cleopatra seems the natural counterpart of Antony: they are but sexual variations of the same bright, luxurious, weak, ambitious being. Gorgeous and munificent in prosperity, they retain the love of their attendants to the last: and the fascinating Egyptian, like her ill-starred slave and lover, shows a courage, tenderness, and constancy, in death, that earns some portion of respect as well as sympathy.

The Octavius of this drama (the all-praised, all-powerful Augustus of a later day) does not appear to us so destitute of good feeling and commanding intellect as has been sometimes thought. In the outset, he seems sincerely desirous of continuing friends with his great compeer, on equal terms: he gives to him the hand of a sister, for whom he entertains the most entire affection: and it is not till the natural revulsion of Antony's debauched appetite leads him to indolence and "his Egyptian dish again" (inducing him to banish an affectionate confiding wife on false pretences), that the pride and outraged feeling of the insulted brother awake to vengeance and implacable hostility.-The admirable scene in Pompey's galley strikingly depicts the totally conflicting intellects and dispositions of the two great future contenders for exclusive universal empire. Antony plays upon the tolerated Lepidus with excellent humour, and finally yields himself a willing shouter in the "Egyptian bacchanals." Octavius is polite and affable, but restrained and self-observant: when urged to drink, he answers,

"I could well forbear it.

It's monstrous labour when I wash my brain
And it grows fouler."

His anxiety, also, to separate before the personal dignity of the guests shall be too far compromised, is highly characteristic. The great "coming event" of future mastery "throws its shadow before," throughout this exquisite scene of rampant revelry.

Lepidus-the younger Pompey-Enobarbus-Ventidius-and the numerous other minor characters, would be minor only in so great a scene: all combine to excite that overpowering wonder which Coleridge speaks of as his predominant feeling in the perusal of this magnificent drama.

No edition of "ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA" is known to exist, prior to that of the first folio. The incidents, as in the two preceding plays, are derived from Plutarch's interesting narrative.

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SCENE I.-Alexandria. A Room in CLEOPATRA'S



Phi. Nay, but this dotage of our general's O'erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes, That o'er the files and musters of the war Have glowed like plated Mars, now bend, now turn, The office and devotion of their view Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart, Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper;

And is become the bellows and the fan
To cool a gipsy's lust.-Look, where they come!
Take but good note, and you shall see in him
The triple pillar of the world transformed
Into a strumpet's fool. Behold and see.

Enter ANTONY and CLEOPATRA, with their Trains: Eunuchs fanning her. Cleo. If it be love indeed, tell me how much. Ant. There's beggary in the love that can be reckoned.

Cleo. I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

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Eno. Bring in the banquet quickly: wine enough, Cleopatra's health to drink.

Char. Good sir, give me good fortune.
Sooth. I make not, but foresee.

Char. Pray, then, foresee me one.

Sooth. You shall be yet far fairer than you are.
Char. He means, in flesh.

Iras. No; you shall paint when you are old.
Char. Wrinkles forbid!

Alex. Vex not his prescience: be attentive.
Char. Hush!

Sooth. You shall be more beloving than beloved
Char. I had rather heat my liver with drinking.
Alex. Nay, hear him.

Char. Good now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all: let me have a child at fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry may do homage: find me to marry me with Octavius Cæsar, and companion me with my mistress.

Sooth. You shall outlive the lady whom you

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